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Maryland lawmaker to introduce bill to ban tackle football for kids

Posted at 11:33 PM, Feb 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-05 23:39:05-05

The high scoring Super bowl had a lot of big hits, including one that sent a star player to the locker room with a head injury.

Those kinds of injuries have gotten the attention of a Maryland lawmaker who is introducing a bill to ban tackle football for kids who are not playing in high school yet.

Democrat Delegate Terri Hill from District 12, who is a doctor, said young athletes shouldn’t be taking on that type of head trauma while they are still learning about their body and may not know how to report what could be a life changing problem.

"How do you know if their sleeping in because they had an exhausting week and a hard game or if their sleeping in because they have early signs of a concussive injury," said Hill.

It’s an age that the Director of Sports Neurology for LifeBridge Dr. Kevin Crutchfield, said shouldn’t be liftin weights, which is needed for players to absorb big hits.

"If you can't lift weights to prepare your body to take the impact of the sport why have the impact,” said Crutchfield.
“The other issue is the discrepancy in weight some of them have hit puberty putting on muscle mass big bones, others have not. They’re at a discreet physical disadvantage to have that type of impact at that age."

Some parents say if kids don't learn how to tackle early there's a higher risk for players laying the vicious and illegal hits.

"The concept of the game is movement is finding open space and creating opportunities,” said Crutchfield. “When you’re so focused on kids hitting each other you’re not teaching the fundamentals of the game. If they learn those fundamentals earlier they wouldn't be colliding so much because they would be opening up the game and open space.”

Bruce Laird played the sport from his first practice at age 12 to 36 when he retired from the NFL.

As a strong safety for the Baltimore colts for 13 years, he knows how to tackle.

 

"Tackling is your heads up your going this way with your arms, you tackle with your head and shoulders,” said Laird.  “You don't go in spearing people or leading with your head. You don't put your head down like this and tackle someone."

He geared his kids to other sports like lacrosse, soccer and baseball, not letting them play until they turned 12.

He didn't want his kids to take the big hits that are making him nervous about his own future and so many of his teammates that suffer from progressive brain diseases like Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

"It's devastating CTE is so devastating to family loved ones and everybody involved to each of these athletes,” said Laird. “Dozens have committed suicide and when their brains are given back to science their loaded with CTEz."

The bill would also include checking in lacrosse and hockey and heading in soccer.

Hill said she plans to submit the bill sometime next week.