De Caro and Kaplen, a leading brain injury law firm, has been tracking state attempts to age restrict football. It’s the only firm in the nation whose partners have both served as chair of the prestigious Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice.
There are six states — California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Massachusetts — that have so far put forth legislative efforts. Five of those efforts failed, and the Massachusetts law, which would ban kids in seventh grade and younger from playing tackle football at school or in a youth league, was only just introduced in February 2019.
There is no definitive answer on when a brain is ready to take the pounding of football repeatedly, but an Annals of Neurology study shows that CTE symptoms show up earlier in kids who play tackle football before age 12. The state bans would have only applied to kids 12 and younger (or in some cases 14 and younger), so what happened exactly? Why did the efforts fail?
The combined populations of those states is more than 87 million, indicating that the fallout would be profound for America’s football institutions. And despite the fact that each is a “blue state,” children’s safety is quite simply not a political issue. It is, however, an issue for a certain multibillion-dollar industry and the mechanisms that feed it.