SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Youth football teams in California are closer to following the same full-contact practice rules as middle and high school teams.

Assembly Bill 1 unanimously passed the Senate Thursday. It goes to Governor Newsom next.

If he signs it into law, starting in 2021, youth football teams in California may be limited to no more than two 30-minute full-contact practices a week during the season, and no full-contact practices during the offseason, in an effort to cut down on the amount of concussions and head injuries.

An EMT will also need to be present at every game.

AB 1 would require:

  • Coaches to get certified in tackling and blocking.
  • Coaches to get certified in first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and automated external defibrillator use.
  • Coaches to comply with training related to heat-related illness.
  • Someone on the staff to complete yearly concussion and head injury education.
  • Programs to meet certain requirements relating to safety equipment (helmets; hip, knee, and shoulder pads; jerseys, tailbone protectors, pants and thigh guards, and cleats).
  • Staff to inspect all equipment before every full-contact practice.
  • A licensed medical professional (EMT, paramedic, or higher-level licensed professional) would also need to be present during games.
  • Youth football leagues to establish various divisions based on age and weight, and keep track of injuries.
  • Players to complete at least 10 hours of non-contact practice.

The proposed law follows recent recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which found:

“Most injuries sustained during participation in youth football are minor, including injuries to the head and neck. The incidences of severe injuries, catastrophic injuries, and concussion, however, are higher in football than most other team sports and appear to increase with age.”

Existing law already restricts middle and high school teams from holding more than two full-contact practices a week during the preseason and the regular season, and none during the offseason. The full-contact portion of practice can go no longer than 90 minutes. Full-contact is defined as: “the period of time in drills or live-action that involves contact at game speed (and) a session where one or more drills or live action is conducted that involves contact at game speed, as in an actual tackle football game or scrimmage. This includes simulations or drills that involve any number of players.”

A number of organizations have offered support for AB 1, including American Youth Football, California Coaches Association, and the National Center for Sports Safety.

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