By Macy Jenkins

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.

Comments (2)
  1. The coaches heart is in the right place, but there’s nothing that tackle football can achieve that flag football under the age of 14 can’t. The sport is more about skills, technique, discipline and teamwork at an early age, than collision. Make tackle football an informed consent decision of the athlete rather than an emotional decision of an adult athlete hanging on to the past. #Proebstle80

  2. Dan Striker says:

    Football was important to me too, but not worth my life! My life is important to me and to my family. I played in youth and HS football for 9 years. My life is upside down and I believe is it is due to CTE. The symptoms don’t lie. The memory loss, shaking, losing temper, headaches, blurred vision, clumsy, depression, suicidal…all of it. To those of you who wonder if this is real. Look around, find half a dozen former football players and see how they are doing. Are they thriving. To those supporting youth tackle football. Shame on you for putting your selfish interests first…Your entertainment on Sunday is causing death and hardship. 10 of the players you saw in the last superbowl will die at their own hands, that’s just not ok! We need to stop the abuse at youth levels!

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