For nearly a decade, state Assemblymember Michael Benedetto has embarked on a legislative effort to eliminate tackling in youth football for ages 12 and under, and shift toward non-contact flag football. Responses to the bill over that time — and the possibility of scaling back full-contact and tackling in youth football — have set off intense and sometimes visceral reactions. Benedetto told the Bronx Times he’s been accused of attempting to “wussify” the game of football, a sport that has long-revered playing through pain.
“Football is so ingrained in our culture that I’ve heard concerns about this bill that it’s un-American, and that I’m trying to get rid of football entirely,” said Benedetto. “This bill is to protect our young kids from possibly having long-term brain damage that will affect them for rest of their lives.”