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State Sen. Steve Knight, R-Antelope Valley, reiterated his criticism Wednesday for a bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last week that places restrictions on full-contact youth football practices.
The bill, AB2127, prohibits game-speed tackling drills during offseason practices for middle and high schools, and limits it to 90-minute sessions twice a week during the regular season. The new rules take effect in 2015 and apply to public, private and charter schools.
“It’s a full-contact sport,” Knight said. “If you don’t want your child playing football, don’t let them play football.”
While proponents of the bill — including medical groups and the California Interscholastic Federation — contend it should alleviate risks associated with concussions, Knight argued that it puts California student-athletes at a disadvantage for college scholarships as they compete with student-athletes in other states.
“If my kid’s in high school football, and he’s good enough to get a scholarship, I want him to get it,” Knight said.
Other states have enacted similar legislation. The Ivy League and Pac-12 Conference at the college level have also reduced full-contact practice to cut down on head injuries. Yet unless the rule is uniformly in place across all states, it isn’t fair, Knight said.
Apple Valley football coach Frank Pulice said last week he opposed the law since it too easily affords other teams an opportunity to skirt the rule.
“To me, it’s kind of stupid,” Pulice said. “People make choices in life.”
Brian Seymour, a senior director with the CIF, downplayed the law, however, as “nothing new for our coaches.”
The CIF has already addressed concussion risks by limiting total practice time in all sports to 18 hours per week beginning July 1.
Knight said the legislation was ultimately driven by the idea that you can take all risk out of life.
“It’s a hard-hitting sport,” he said. “At least, it used to be.”
The Associated Press and Daily Press Staff Writer Matthew Peters contributed to this report. Shea Johnson may be reached at 760-955-5368 or SJohnson@VVDailyPress.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DP_Shea.