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Bill aiming to ban tackle football for children rejected in Maryland

Maryland lawmakers rejected a bill that would have banned tackling in football for children. (Getty Images)

A Maryland bill that would have prohibited tackle football for elementary and middle school kids was killed in committee this week, according to the Baltimore Sun.

The bill would have also banned heading in soccer by kids below the high school grade levels. U.S. Soccer Federation guidelines already banned children under 11 from heading the ball.

Where did the bill come from?

The bill was filed by Del. Terri Hill, a Democrat from Howard County, who said she wasn’t surprised with the result.

“I really did not expect it to pass, but I think it’s a conversation we have to have and I don’t think the conversation is over,” Hill said. “Culturally we love football, I love football. It’s difficult to appreciate that something we really enjoy — with clear benefits to our kids — may be hurting them without our knowledge.”

Hill is a surgeon who said she is focused on the risk of accumulated damage from “sub-concussive” hits and the impact that they can have on developing brains of children.

How was the bill received publicly?

Predictably, local youth coaches were strongly against the bill and made their opposition known through local media and online petitions.

Some coaches did acknowledge the need to find less drastic ways to improve player safety.

“It shouldn’t have passed, but there are some things we can do,” Michael Melvin, vice president of the Reisterstown Mustangs youth football program, said. “We need to come down on the number of practices with full pads. We’re playing a little too much football."

What was the result of the vote?

The Maryland House Ways and Means Committee voted down the bill with 19 votes against and three members declining to vote.

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