A bill that would have created a commission to study and recommend a minimum age for participating in tackle football was unanimously rejected by committee lawmakers after they realized a similar organization already exists and would take up the same issue.

Bill sponsor Rep. Michael Brennan, D-Portland, said he introduced the bill because of the growing body of evidence that links football’s repeated nonconcussive blows to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

Members of the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, including Brennan, voted against the bill after learning the Maine Concussion Management Initiative at Colby College was doing similar work. Committee Chairwoman Sen. Rebecca Millett, D-Cape Elizabeth, said the committee will send the Department of Education a letter outlining the issues in the bill.

Fears about the risk of brain injuries have contributed to a sharp decline in the number of youths playing tackle football. Among children age 6 to 12, tackle football participation declined nearly 17 percent from 2010 to 2017, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association.

Six states have introduced legislation calling for a tackle football age limit since 2018, though none of the bills has been passed into law. In January, Maine’s chapter of the National Football Foundation – a group of prominent coaches including Colby College’s Jack Cosgrove – went on record in support of playing flag football until players reach adolescence.

 

 

 

 

 

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