The Maryland General Assembly introduced a new bill that will restrict tackling in youth football leagues, and will even ban the use of “headers” in soccer until kids reach the high school level. Parents and coaches from all over the state turned to social media, along with multiple radio stations to display their frustrations.
An online petition was started over the weekend opposing the bill, within a couple of days the petition to “stop the bill” grew to over 2,500 signatures. Del. Terri Hill, a Howard County Democrat, who originally filed the legislation is standing behind her proposed bill, but has heard the outrage from oppositions and is receptive to thoughts on both sides.
“I remain open to listening to people’s opinions,” said Hill, “This is going to create debate, and that’s part of the process.”
The bill doesn’t just have a direct effect on youth sports like football and soccer, it will also infringe on youth lacrosse and hockey. The measure would prevent kids from playing tackle football or engaging in any other contact activity on public supported fields or grounds until they reach the high school level.
The ban will include the eliminations of headers in soccer, along with body checks and stick slashing in both lacrosse and hockey.
“We are looking at the four sports where we have been told there is the highest risk of developing brains due to repetitive head trauma,” said Terri Hill. She believes the call for the sanctions is due to a serious “public health issue.”
Both support and outrage have been witnessed since the proposal of this bill, State Sen. William C. Smith Jr., a Montgomery County Democrat said, “I’m really glad this issue and topic has been put out there. It’s a public health concern, we really need to have discussions about youth sports and concussions. I’m happy to let that dialogue play out in the House.”
Some of the administrators believe that the state governments are stepping out of line by proposing this type of bill.
Michael Melvin, who is the chairman of football operations for the Reisterstown Mustangs, a youth football program with eight teams and 200 players from 5-14 years old had this to say.
“To actually ban the entire sport is a little bit ridiculous, the game has never been safer for the youth as far as the equipment we have. All of our coaches are certified by USA Football.”
“If this bill is passed, it will have a very negative impact on our youth especially those in the inner city, the choice to play youth tackle football should be left up to the parents, not the government.”
Michael Melvin, started the petition on Friday and has already accumulated over 2500 signatures and is hoping to reach 5000 signatures.
The petition can be located at: