Letter: Keep govt. out of youth football
To the editor:
As many readers of The Berkshire Eagle may know, in early 2019 a bill was proposed by Massachusetts lawmakers to ban youth football before seventh grade. This bill known as "No Hits" would impose fines on any school or league that chooses to continue allowing kids under seventh grade playing tackle football. These teams or leagues could be fined as much as $10,000 for noncompliance. Should the choice to play youth football be left to legislators or the better judgment of parents?
Is football even dangerous enough to ban, or are there sports that are equally as dangerous but overlooked? Sports such as hockey and soccer cause concussions too, so why should they not be regulated? Is it because they look less violent? Or because they are less widespread? There is no reason to target the one sport which is quite possibly the safest out of these three.
Football is at the forefront of concussion research and is training coaches and players to participate more safely. In most football leagues, coaches are required to be certified to teach safe play to their participants. As more and more research is conducted and more technology is developed, football can only become safer.
With safety being a top priority for many football leagues and organizations, starting as young as possible can be beneficial. As someone who started playing football at six years of age, I believe that in comparison with someone who waited until high school to start playing I had extra time to develop safe hitting techniques. When children start at a younger age where it is less high stakes rather than focusing on winning they are able to focus on proper football techniques.
Instead of passing legislation the state should trust parent to use their best judgment when they decide if their children play football or not. Parents know whether or not their child can handle a contact sport and at which age they are old enough to start. Most parents would never willingly put their kids in harm's way and understand that if played and taught correctly football will be a fun and safe opportunity for their children.
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