State Assemblyman pushes for age limit on tackle football

High school, college and professional players get most of the attention but football starts with Pop Warner and other youth programs. Pop Warner helps kids learn to play the game but New York Assemblyman Michael Benedetto wants kids to learn without tackling or contact. Benedetto is proposing a law that would ban tackling and contact in organized football for players under 1. He says it is the best way to protect kids from head injuries.

"Their neck muscles are not fully developed enough to absorb the concussive and sub concussive blows that they get in these sports," said Benedetto on Friday.

Many Pop Warner coaches say Benedetto's plan could do more harm than good. Youth football programs already limit contact and Fayetteville Manlius Pop Warner president Adon Allen says waiting to teach kids how to safely block, tackle and fall until they are 14 is too late.

"So now you take these improper techniques they've formed, these bad habits, ultimately sooner or later they're going to get hurt," said Allen.

Benedetto says even improved helmets and pads can not change the inherent risk that comes with being tackled.

"No matter how much you teach kids, football is a fast moving sport," said Benedetto.

Allen and Pop Warner coaches say Benedetto needs to learn that youth football is about introducing kids to teamwork and playing safely - not big hits.

"The sooner they have good habits, the better off they're going to be," said Allen.

Benedetto admits he does not have much support for his ban in the state Assembly and no state Senator has been willing to sponsor it.