Lawmakers in California have shelved a bill that would have banned children under age 12 from playing tackle football.
The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that the Safe Football Act faced a firestorm of criticism from the youth football community, with one group garnering more than 45,000 signatures on a petition to keep the sport open to anyone who wants to play it.
Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, a Democrat representing Sacramento, said the bill has been placed on the sidelines for now.
"We're taking a time out," he said, according to the Times.
Stakeholders on both sides of the issue reacted to the news.
Brian Heffron, a spokesman for Pop Warner football, told the Times that 100,000 kids play youth tackle football across the Golden State.
"We're grateful to those in the Assembly who recognize that tackle football has never been safer, thanks to our many rule changes, improved coaching education, and commitment to player safety," Heffron said.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, a San Diego Democrat, co-authored the bill that was introduced earlier this year. According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, she said at the time, "The science is clear: head injuries sustained at a young age can harm kids for the rest of their lives."
She reacted to Friday's news by telling the Times, "I'm going to continue to talk about the dangers of youth tackle football whether there's a bill or not. I'm confident that one day in California, kids under 12 will be playing only flag football."
A group of former professional football players said in January they are trying to convince parents not to let their kids play football until they're at least 14 years old.
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