Attorney Michael M. Shea, Jr. recently wrote an editorial in The Mercury News, San Jose's largest newspaper. In this editorial, he tackled an issue that's close and personal to him: the concussion risk in youth sports. And for that reason, he wrote to express support for AB 2108, also known as the "Safe Youth Football Act." The bill would have mandated that all participants in youth tackle football be at least 12 years old.
You can read the editorial in its entirety here.
YOUTH SPORTS & CTE RISK
It's estimated that more than 7,500 kids ages 5 through 16 will enroll in Pop Warner football this year, and that means thousands of kids will all be placed at significant risk for a serious head injury, including a concussion. And with the risk of a head injury comes an increased chance of acquiring Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, also known as CTE.
CTE has been in the news a lot lately, particularly when it comes to sports and specifically football. Both the NFL and the NCAA have been dealing with a spree of lawsuits from former players, alleging that the institutions did little to nothing to protect the players which participated in them. CTE has long been linked to head injuries, and head injuries are particularly common in tackle football, where helmet-to-helmet collisions are an extremely common part of the game.
Ultimately, AB 2108 was pulled due to lack of support and a protest organized by South Bay Pop Warner which collected nearly 46,000 signatures in opposition. The petition stated that no research connecting increased brain damage or CTE has been connected to participation in youth football, but a September 2017 article in The New York Times stated otherwise.
Even former professional and collegiate football players have expressed their support of banning tackle football for younger children. Nick Buoniconti (Miami Dolphins) and Phil Villapiano (Oakland Raiders) are both former pros, and Buoniconti, now 77, has been diagnosed with dementia and likely also has CTE. He told CNN "I beg of you, all parents please don't let your children play football until high school. Youtu tackle football is all risk with no reward."
Recent medical studies have also agreed. Dr. Lee Goldstein found that CTE can start developing very early in life, even without signs of a concussion. The research urges children to avoid contact sports until the age of 14, when the head and neck muscles can prevent and support some of the bobbing and shaking that occurs during head impacts.
If you or your child has suffered a serious head injury through no fault of your own, it's important to remember you have rights as an injury victim. Talk to a San Jose personal injury attorney by calling Shea & Shea - A Professional Law Corporation today at (408) 883-3863.