SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A former Rocklin Junior Thunder coach is taking on a controversial bill on tackle football.
Two California lawmakers are looking to ban the contact sport for children under 14, but parents who want to keep youth football alive a throwing their support behind an online petition that opposes the whole idea.
“It will end the sport of football,” said Jason Ingman, who started the petition on Saturday. “Baseball is America’s pastime, but football is America’s passion!”
There are roughly 250 youth football organizations in Northern California alone, full of kids who play the sport and rely on it. But research linking the contact sport with long-lasting brain trauma makes many parents uneasy about enrolling their children.
“Their body parts and everything else are very fragile at that age, and I feel like they should wait,” said Monique Gaines, a mother of two.
That idea fueled Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty and Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher to propose the Safe Youth Football Act. The bill would ban children under 14 years old from playing the game until high school.
“The Golden State’s children need to know that no touchdown or interception is worth long-term damage to their brains caused by tackle football,” McCarty said.
Ingman played football for UC Davis and has been coaching youth teams for eight years. When he heard about the pending legislation, he started a petition called Save Youth Football in California.
“We’re just hoping they’ll let us make that decision for ourselves,” he said.
In just five days, the petition has gotten more than 35,000 signatures across the country.
“They’re all outraged because they know as California goes, a lot of the rest of the nation will follow,” Ingman said.
He says concussion research on 50-year-olds hit while playing at a professional level can’t be applied to 10-year-olds playing at a much slower pace. And that the game has seen too many safety improvements in recent years to give up on the sport just yet.
“Without youth football, high school football can’t function,” Ingman said. “And without high school football, college football can’t function. And without college football, the NFL can’t function.”
Ingman says he looks forward to sitting down with McCarty to convey how important youth football is to many families.