By Laura At Parenting
Your little boy idolizes Peyton Manning, tosses a football for hours and wears his Broncos jersey almost every day. But when it comes time to sign up for tackle football, will you let him?
Lawmaker Michael Benedetto, an assemblyman from the Bronx, thinks you shouldn't - and he's proposed a bill that would prohibit kids 10 and under from playing organized tackle football in New York state. His is one of the strictest proposed legislations on kids and football in the country.
"Football demands physical contact on every single play," Benedetto says. "My intent is to protect our youngest from injuries they might sustain that may have a long-lasting effect on their development."
More and more research - including major studies released last year by Boston University and Harvard Medical School- has linked head trauma with long-term degenerative brain disease resulting in memory loss, depression and dementia.
Even President Barack Obama has weighed in on the issue - telling CBS that if he had a son, he'd think twice about letting him join a tackle football team. "I am a huge fan, but there is no doubt some of the concerns we've learned about when it comes to concussions have to give parents pause," he said.
But not everyone wants kids off the gridiron. Tackle football is safe, as long as kids are supervised and taught how to play correctly, says Josh Pruce, national director of media relations for Pop Warner. More than 250,000 kids ages 5 to 15 play tackle football in Pop Warner programs in the United States. "If you learn good fundamentals early on, you'll continue to have good fundamentals all the way through," Pruce told Parenting.com. The league instituted a concussion rule in 2010 - any kids who display concussion-like symptoms can't play or even practice until being cleared by a doctor. In addition, only one-third of a team's practice time can now involve contact.
Banning the youngest kids from the game would hurt more than just their dreams of becoming the next Tom Brady, Pruce says. "Pop Warner teaches more than just football. It teaches teamwork. It teaches leadership."