Date: April 12, 2018

To: The Honorable Assemblymember Kansen Chu

Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, & Internet Media

Cc: Members of the Assembly Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, & Internet Media

Re: Opposition to AB 2108 – the Safe Youth Football Act

The Save Youth Football California coalition is comprised of concerned players, parents, coaches, game officials, league administrators and concerned citizens who are in opposition of AB 2108 (the Safe Youth Football Act).  While our coalition applauds the legislature for their efforts to improve the level of safety in the game of youth tackle football, an outright ban of youth tackle football until age 12 is an extreme legislative measure, in which we believe the authors failed to consider several key aspects before submitting this bill for consideration by your Committee:

  1. The proposed legislation to ban youth tackle football is unwarranted governmental overreach and an extreme example of governmental interference in parental rights

  2. The current portfolio of medical research has failed to demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship between participation in youth tackle football and the potential for long-term neurological damage or CTE; therefore, the assertion that repeated sub-concussive impacts causes CTE is inconclusive at best and deceptively misleading at worst.

  3. AB 2108 unjustifiably targets with extreme prejudice, the sport of youth tackle football and does so in a single sport discriminatory fashion while other contact sports and actives which have been scientifically proven to pose a greater potential for injury risk, including long-term neurological damage and CTE, remain intact and proportionally unaffected.

  4. Improvements in instructional techniques and coaching certifications, such as USA Heads-Up football tackling and CDC Concussion protocol training, coupled with improvements in protective equipment technology, have put us on a continuously improving path making youth tackle football safer today than it has ever been.

  5. The social, emotional, mental and physical benefits received by youth participating in youth tackle football far outweigh the minimal risk of potential injury; denying youth access to such positive influences during a young athlete’s formative years of emotional and social development would be an injustice to the very children who this misguided proposed legislation purports to serve.

  6. Youth tackle football embodies diversity and inclusiveness, in that it levels all demographic boundaries (e.g. economic, ethnic, racial, religious, etc) and brings communities together like no other sport or activity.

  7. Participation in youth tackle football has immeasurable positive effects on the lives of hundreds of thousands of youth athletes throughout California who are underserved by traditional social, academic and family units by providing positive mentoring relationships and stability.

  8. Youth tackle football has a long and proud history spanning nearly 75 years of organized play with a significant portion of that time being played under less stringent safety guidelines as present today. If indeed there were such prevailing risk of neurological exposure to our youth, there would be an overwhelming and visible public health crisis; it is clear that is not the case regionally, statewide, or even at the national level.

The authors of the Safe Youth Football Act (AB 2108) have stated the proposal to ban youth tackle football until the age of 12 is based on current scientific research the links participation in youth tackle football before the age of 12 with long-term neurological damage; however, the research cited by the bill’s proponents is by no means conclusive, nor has the research received universal acceptance in the medical community via peer-reviewed, control-group tested research studies.  Below is just a small sampling of medical research and statements from neurologists who counter the author’s presumptions regarding the risks associated with participation in youth tackle football:

American Academy of Pediatrics (October 25, 2015) – Tackling in Youth Football

Researchers with the American Academy of Pediatrics noted “the effect of subconcussive blows on long-term cognitive function, incidence of CTE, and other health outcomes remains unclear….Further research is needed in this area.”  By “delaying the age at which tackling is introduced to the game would likely decrease the risk of these injuries for the age levels at which tackling would be prohibited. Once tackling is introduced, however, athletes who have no previous experience with tackling would be exposed to collisions for the first time at an age at which speeds are faster, collision forces are greater and injury risk is higher. Lack of experience with tackling and being tackled may lead to an increase in the number and severity of injuries once tackling is introduced.”

Neurosurg Focus (Feb 2016) – The science and questions surrounding chronic traumatic encephalopathy (Vin Shen Ban, et al)

Researchers examined existing research on the topic of sports-related CTE and identified multiples areas of concern regarding the research methodologies utlized to identify CTE.  First, researchers noted “A common misconception is that the presence of tau protein in the brain leads to a diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).” They further discovered that “In the published autopsy cases of athletes suspected to have had CTE over the past 11 years, only (20%) [of] individuals were found to have the neuropathological findings fitting the individual authors’ criteria of CTE with no coexisting neuropathology….and the high number of athletes included in the previous studies represents selection bias.”  

The researchers further concluded that of the “approximately 18,000 former NFL players and approximately 3 to 4 million athletes (at all levels) [who] play football every year, which pale in comparison with the total number of athletes that play contact sports or sports that involve repetitive head contact (e.g., hockey, boxing, lacrosse, soccer, equestrian sports), the historical total number of reported cases of CTE (n = 153, in the scientific literature and media) raise[s] the critical question of the true incidence and prevalence of CTE in athletes involved in contact sports.”  

The researchers reference a study in BRAIN by McKee, et all (The spectrum of disease in chronic traumatic encephalopathy.) which found “that 11% of those found to have CTE by pathological examination were asymptomatic.”  The study concludes that “it is premature to conclude that playing contact sports will lead to CTE. The potential risks involved in playing such sports need to be balanced against the potential benefits for the individuals concerned. It is crucial to base clinical decisions on an objective review of the current evidence. Large-scale longitudinal studies are needed to further our knowledge on sports-related TBI.”

British Journal of Sports Medicine (Mar 2018) – A systematic review of potential long-term effects of sport-related concussion (Geoff Manley, et al)

Researched from the Department of Neurological Surgery at University of California San Francisco conducted a systematic review of the existing literature on possible long-term effects of sport-related concussions, including risk for CTE.  Following a review of 3819 studies, the researchers found “former high school American football players do not appear to be at increased risk for later life neurodegenerative diseases” and while “multiple concussions appear to be a risk factor for cognitive impairment and mental health problems in some individuals. More research is needed to better understand the prevalence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy and other neurological conditions and diseases, and the extent to which they are related to concussions and/or repetitive neurotrauma sustained in sports.”

“An increased risk for neurodegenerative diseases in retired [professional] American football players is suggested in one study examining death certificates, but more research is needed….It is important to appreciate, however, that survey studies of former collegiate and professional athletes indicate that the majority of people rate their functioning as normal and consistent with the general population. There is much more to learn about.”

Researchers investigated the topic of subconcussive impacts and determined “there are significant methodological challenges associated with the study of subconcussive impacts. The challenge researchers face at this time is that (i) there is no established definition of a subconcussive impact or a subconcussive injury, (ii) an impact may or may not cause an injury, and it is difficult to determine if an injury has occurred, and (iii) the biomechanical features and thresholds for quantifying a impact and identifying an injury have not been agreed upon. Therefore, the hypothesis that subconcussive impacts cause long-term neurological injury requires more research before conclusions can be drawn.”

Researchers concluded that “more research on the long-term sequelae is needed to better understand the incidence and prevalence of CTE and other neurological conditions among former athletes. The causes of mental health and cognitive problems in former athletes, like the general population, are broad and diverse including genetics, life stress, general medical problems (eg, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease), chronic bodily pain, substance abuse, neurological conditions and disease (eg, cerebrovascular disease) and neurodegenerative diseases (eg, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and ALS). The extent to which repetitive neurotrauma causes static or progressive changes in brain microstructure and physiology, and contributes to later life mental health and cognitive problems, is poorly understood and requires further study.

International Journal of Psychophysiology (Feb 2018) – Subconcussive head impact in sport: A systematic review of evidence (Lynda Mainwaring, et al)

Researched reviewed a total of 1,966 articles that sought to assess subconcussive impacts or outcomes related to non-concussive head impact exposure. The researchers determined “there was insufficient to weak evidence for the relationship between repetitive hits to the head and deterioration in neurocognitive performance…. Insufficient evidence was presented to determine a minimal injury threshold for repetitive hits to the head.”  The researches concluded that studies of male athletes in contact and collision sports identified that repetitive hits to the head are associated with microstructural and functional changes in the brain. Whether these changes represent injury is unclear….the term ‘subconcussion’ to be inconsistently used, poorly defined, and misleading. Future research is needed to characterize the phenomenon in question.”

The Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine (2017) – Youth Football Injuries: A Prospective Cohort (Andrew R. Peterson, et al)

Researchers at the University of Iowa studied the rate of injury in tackle football versus flag football involving a total of 3,794 players from three large youth football leagues (grades 2-7).  After reviewing a total of 46,416 exposures, 128 injuries were reported, with 33 injuries classified as concussions.  The researchers determined “the injury rate found in the youth flag league is significantly higher than the injury rate in youth tackle football.  The higher injury rate in flag football could be due to a number of factors. Flag football players do not wear protective equipment like tackle football players.”  

The researchers concluded that “rates of injury in youth football are relatively low. Youth flag football has a higher injury rate than tackle football. A significantly different rate of severe injury or concussion between tackle and flag football was not identified…we cannot conclude that youth flag football is a safer alternative to youth tackle football. The higher injury rate in flag football needs to be considered when determining the relative safety of flag football and tackle football.  Future safety analyses should include looking at injury rates, severity, type of injury, lost time, and future consequences of injury.”

The American Journal of Sports Medicine (Feb 2016) – Participation in Pre-High School Footbal adn Neurological, Neuroradiological, and Neuropsychological Findings in Later Life (Gary S. Solomon, et al)

Researches conducted a study of forty-five (45) retired National Football League players to confirm the findings of a recent study that found a link between an earlier age of first exposure (AFE) to pre–high school tackle football (PreYOE) and long-term neurocognitive impairment.  The researchers determined that ”none of the neurological, neuroradiological, or neuropsychological outcome measures yielded a significant relationship with PreYOE” and long-term neurocognitive impairment.  The researchers were unable “to replicate the results of the prior study, which concluded that an earlier AFE to tackle football might result in long-term neurocognitive deficits.  In 45 retired NFL athletes, there were no associations between PreYOE and neuroradiological, neurological, and neuropsychological outcome measures.”

Developmental Neuropsychology (March 2018) – Chronic traumatic encephalopathy in sports: a historical and narrative review (Gary Solomon)

Research from the Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine, Department of Neurological Surgery, conducted a review of current research on sport-related concussion (SRC) and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).  After reviewing a study by Guskiewicz et al. (2005), which purporting to demonstrate empirically a relationship between concussions and later life cognitive impairment, the results indicated that “mental health” component scores for the NFL retirees aged 50 years and older were similar to those of the general population for all age groups.  A second survey by Guskiewicz et al. focusing on memory and issues related to Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) demonstrated the rates of MCI in NFL retireees are essentially equal to or less than population prevalence values. 

The notions that subconcussion…and repeated head impacts (RHI) are cumulative and lead to CTE have become fundamental tenets in CTE pathogenesis. Subconcussion has been defined as mild brain trauma that does not result in the readily observable signs and symptoms of a concussion.  Sagher (2013) countered with: a) the definitional difficulty of subconcussive impact, b) the fact that not every incidental blow to the head is pathological, c) each impact is difficult to quantify and does not have the same significance, d) the supposition that the mere number is the rate limiting factor is “simplistic,” and e) the role of genetics must be addressed.  

“For purposes of cause and effect it is necessary to account for genetic, medical, psychiatric, substance abuse, and biopsychosocial variables that could be relevant in the short- and long-term neurobehavioral and neurocognitive outcomes.” 

The study concluded “there is no compelling empirical evidence to indicate that sport-related concussion or subconcussive impacts are the sole and direct cause of psychiatric illness, suicide, MCI, or neurodegenerative disease/CTE. As clinical neuropsychologists and sports medicine clinicians, it is incumbent on us to focus on the relevant, multivariate factors in the long-term outcome from sport-related concussion, and not to reinforce the linear thinking of concussions or subconcussive impacts as the cause of all neuropsychiatric ills. Concussions and/or subconcussive impacts are not the only independent variables in the outcome from life.”

PLOS One (January 2016) – Chronic Exposure to Androgenic-Anabolic Steroids Exacerbates Axonal Injury and Microgliosis in the CHIMERA Mouse Model of Repetitive Concussion (Dhananjay R. Namjoshi1, et al)

Researchers at the University of British Columbia sought to identify a correlation between androgenic-anabolic steroids (AAS) use and CTE.  A recent systematic review revealed that approximately 20% of all reported pathologically confirmed CTE cases have a documented history of exposure to illicit substances including androgenic-anabolic steroids (AAS), alcohol, methamphetamine and marijuana prior to or concurrent with CTE. 

In the study, researchers determined AAS-treated mice exhibited significantly exacerbated axonal injury and microgliosis, indicating that AAS exposure can alter neuronal and innate immune responses to concussive TBI; however, much remains to be learned about factors other than cumulative exposure that could influence concussion pathogenesis. The researchers concluded that AAS exposure exacerbates axonal damage and neuroinflammation after concussion, which may result in a higher probability of CTE. 

Mayo Clinic Proceedings (January 2017) – High School Football and Late-Life Risk of Neurodegenerative Syndromes, 1956-1970 (Pieter H.H. Janssen, et al)

In this community-based study, varsity high school football players from 1956 to 1970 did not have an increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases compared with athletes engaged in other varsity sports. This was from an era when there was a generally nihilistic view of concussion dangers, less protective equipment, and no prohibition of spearing (head-first tackling). 

The New York Times (January 31, 2018) – Hits to the Head May Result in Immediate Brain Damage (Gretchen Reynolds)

The study also cannot determine whether older or younger brains respond the same way to injuries, or why some brains, in both mice and men, seem especially susceptible to mild trauma, while others, after the same hit, remain healthy. Perhaps most important, this short-term experiment cannot tell us whether brains that show incipient signs of C.T.E. will necessarily go on to develop the disease.

StarTribune (February 10, 2018) – Does CTE call for an end to youth tackle football? (Jason Chung , et al)

The scientific evidence linking youth casual sports play to brain injury, brain injury to CTE, and CTE to dementia is not strong. We believe that further scientific research and data are necessary for accurate risk-benefit analysis among policymakers for two reasons.

First, evidence-based science calls for research to be conducted under generally accepted principles. The case series presented by the Boston University group, primarily due to its ascertainment bias, is weaker than the evidentiary standard sufficient to demonstrate an association or causation and conflicts with pathologic findings in other studies. 

CTE pathology in the brain has been shown by British pathologists to be present in approximately 12 percent of normal healthy aged people who died at an average age of 81 years (Ling et al. Acta Neuropathologica). The presence of CTE pathology in the brain on autopsy has not been shown to correlate with neurologic symptoms before death.

To be clear, CTE pathology could be present in a normal person.

There is a disconnect between the categorical rhetoric in media and news releases describing “concussion” research on the one hand, and the muddled and contentious scientific reality on the other. As noted by Dr. Goldstein’s own research, the pathology and link between head impacts and long-term neurological conditions such as CTE is still unclear, with questions of causation yet to be settled.

 In fact, after reviewing all available evidence, the consensus statement from the international conference on concussion in sports states: “A cause-and-effect relationship has not yet been demonstrated between [CTE] and sport-related concussions or exposure to contact sports. As such, the notion that repeated concussion or subconcussive impacts cause CTE remains unknown.”

Nothing in Dr. Goldstein’s recent study changes this ambiguity, which brings us to our second point. Before enacting sweeping legislation or policy spurred by fears of CTE, policymakers must conduct a risk-benefit analysis based on a holistic survey of public health concerns.

Three recently published major studies found no increased risk for later-in-life brain diseases in men who played high school football (Jannsen et al., Mayo Clinic Proceedings; Savica et al., Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Deshpande et al., Jama Neurology).

The San Diego Union-Tribune (February 19, 2018) – No scientific link between youth football and CTE

In fact, the general consensus of the medical community is there is not a proven cause and effect of concussions and CTE. There is no definitive proof that multiple sub-concussive blows lead to CTE. Of course, that is the fear. But a link has by no means been proved.

Certainly, some feel even the suspicion of a link to brain trauma is enough to ban tackle football at young ages. That is not an unreasonable opinion. But that should be stated. People should not present the link of concussion to CTE as a scientific fact.

Or perhaps pee wee football is actually safer than high school football. Certainly the forces involved at the younger levels are less.

We don’t know if it is more or less dangerous for pre-high school kids to play football versus those in high school. An argument can be made that high schoolers hit harder and their fully developed brains are more susceptible to injury and have less recovery potential.

Although we don’t know the effects of concussions, we know in most other systems in the body, recovery is greater and permanent damage is less frequent in the developing body as there is still ability to grow and adapt.

Regardless of any law, parents should be active in making their decisions based on available facts. And lawmakers should know the facts before they vote and not just buy into a false or incomplete narrative.

The News & Observer (March 09, 2018) – UNC’s Kevin Guskiewicz, concussion expert, would ban boxing, and maybe, punt returns | News & Observer 

Guskiewicz has served on the NFL’s head, neck and spine committee, and one of the recommendations was moving the kickoffs from the 30 to the 35-yard line to reduce the number of kickoff returns — the most dangerous play in football, he said.

The rule was put in place in 2011 and Guskiewicz said there were 30 percent more touchbacks and thus no returns, and a 50-percent decrease in concussions on kickoffs.

The NCAA followed suit, he said, starting possessions at the 25-yard line rather than the 20 after touchbacks. Again, there was a 50 percent reduction in concussions.

Guskiewicz, in most speaking appearances, stresses there is no “concussion crisis” affecting U.S. sports.

“That is absolutely not true,” he said. “There’s probably no better time to play sports, including contact sports, than right now because of how much more we know today about concussions.

Guskiewicz said the 40-percent increase in the number of concussions the past five years was a reflection of an increase in better diagnosing a concussion, combined with better treatment for it. In the past, he said, many concussions were not correctly diagnosed and treated.

“There are no more concussions occurring on our playing fields today than there was 10, 15, 20 years ago,” he said.

Sadler Sports – Balancing the Concussion Hype: Looking at both sides of the sensationalism (John M. Sadler)

However, there is definitely a downside to the hysteria, according to Rance A. Boren, a Texas neurologist. “The notion that everyone who plays football going to be mentally unstable in 15 years is just not true,” he said.

It’s important to understand that CTE is not a risk associated with young football athletes –  only a small fraction of NFL and college players exhibit its effects.  CTE is not caused by a single or even multiple concussions that have been properly treated….CTE is usually something boxers or NFL linemen might experience after sustaining thousands of blows to the head over the course of their careers.

TranslationalPsychiatry (Sep. 2017) – Age of first exposure to American football and long-term neuropsychiatric and cognitive outcomes (ML Alosco, et al)

Researchers suggests that age of first exposure (AFE) to football before age 12 may have long-term clinical implications.  While the study claims that athletes whose AFE is >12 year are twice as likely to have clinically impaired scores on tests for executive function (MI), behavioral regulation index (BRI), depression (CES-D), and apathy (AES); however, the researchers note that “these clinical features (executive dysfunction, behavioral dysregulation, depression and apathy) are not specific to CTE.”  The researchers specifically state this is “not a study of risk for CTE or of other neurodegenerative disease.”  

The researches further acknowledge there was “no association between AFE to football and cognition” as measured by the BTACT (Brief Test of Adult Cognition by Telephone) and the research was conducted by a “convenience sample” which “could potentially lead to bias effects, especially if AFE plays a role in selection.” The findings can only be generalized to “male former football players, and the relationship between AFE to other contact sports (for example, soccer) and clinical outcomes, including female contact sports, is unknown.”  Additionally, researchers noted “the style of youth football play could have differed across the age groups of the sample, including differences in type and use of protective headgear…..The causal relationship between AFE to football and long-term clinical outcomes remains unclear.” 

The researchers further stated “The causal relationship between AFE to football and long-term clinical outcomes remains unclear…the tests examined assess symptoms that often co-occur, with bidirectional relationships (for example, depressive symptoms can affect performance on cognitive tests, cognitive impairment can also lead to symptoms of depression, depressive symptoms and impaired cognition can both be clinical manifestations of a single underlying disorder).”  

The researchers specifically cautioned policy makers from using this study as the basis for policy decisions.  “Findings from the current study should not be used to inform safety and/or policy decisions in regards to youth football. Any decisions regarding reducing or eliminating youth football must be made with the understanding of the important health and psychosocial benefits of participating in athletics and team sports during pre-adolescence. Future longitudinal studies that objectively monitor the clinical function of youth football players throughout life, including those who do not go on to play football at the high school, college or professional level, are ultimately needed to understand the long-term neurological safety implications of youth tackle football. 

The researchers concluded that “Youth exposure to football may have long-term neurobehavioral consequences. Additional research studies, especially large cohort longitudinal studies, are needed to better understand the potential long-term clinical implications of youth American football to inform policy and safety decision-making.”

Boston University Research: CTE Center – Frequently Asked Questions about CTE

We believe CTE is caused by repetitive brain trauma. This trauma includes both concussions that cause symptoms and subconcussive hits to the head that cause no symptoms. At this time the number or type of hits to the head needed to trigger degenerative changes of the brain is unknown. In addition, it is likely that other factors, such as genetics, may play a role in the development of CTE, as not everyone with a history of repeated brain trauma develops this disease. However, these other factors are not yet understood.

Written Testimony of Cynthia LaBella, MD, et al, Before the Illinois House Mental Health Committee (March 1, 2018)

While the intentions behind the legislation are well-meaning, there is no data to show that eliminating tackling in youth football will reduce the risk of neuropsychiatric symptoms or disorders in adolescence and adulthood and/or prevent CTE.   

The significance of CTE and whether it is the cause of any symptoms while a person is still alive are as yet undetermined.  Thus far there is no scientific evidence that conclusively links post-mortem findings of CTE in the brain with neuropsychological symptoms during life.  

Studies show CTE is found on autopsy in approximately 12 percent of normal healthy people who died at an average of 81 years, none of whom had any neuropsychological conditions prior to death. 

There is no study to date showing the effect of delaying the age at which tackling is introduced to football on risk of injury. Delaying the age at which tackling is introduced to the game may decrease injury risk for the age levels at which tackling would be prohibited. However, once tackling is introduced, athletes who have no previous experience with tackling would be exposed to collisions for the first time at an age at which speeds are faster, collision forces are greater, and injury risk is higher. Lack of experience with tackling and being tackled may lead to a substantial increase in the number and severity of injuries once tackling is introduced.

An outright ban of youth tackle football until age 12 would actually lead to a greater number of injuries, as referenced in The American Academy of Pediatrics most recent statement on you tackle football (see attached statement).  Athletes would no longer receive progressive instruction on proper tackling and blocking techniques during their formative years of play; thereby, subjecting youth athletes to a greater risk of injury upon their entry to the game of football at later ages, in a much higher energy environment where players are physically larger, faster and stronger.

Therefore, we respectfully recommend the Committee consider the following safety protocols be implemented in lieu of an outright ban on youth tackle football as part of the Safe Youth Football Act to improve the overall level of safety within youth tackle football while creating a uniform standard which all youth football organization across the State must adhere to in an effort to both minimize and mitigate the potential for injury of youth football players:

  1. All youth tackle football organizations in California are required to receive annual Tackling/Blocking certification from a nationally recognized provider and all youth football coaches shall receive annual training and certification in the latest Tackling/Blocking techniques; certification must provide instruction on proper tackling and blocking drills and techniques designed to minimize the risk during contact by removing the player’s head from all tacking and blocking techniques.

  2. All youth tackle football organizations in California are required to adhere to the CDC Concussion protocols for concussion awareness and return-to-play procedures and all youth football coaches shall receive State-mandated annual training and certification in CDC HEADS UP to Youth Sports training; CDC Concussion protocols require players who have suffered a concussive blow shall be immediately removed from the field of play and shall not be allowed to return to full-contact participation until the player has been cleared by a medical doctor and successfully completed a five-day protocol of evaluation before the player is allowed to return to full-contact participation.

  3. All youth tackle football organizations in California are required to adhere to practice and full-contact limits set forth under AB 2127 (2014) which limit football programs to no more then 90 minutes of full-contact practice per day, and limits the number of full-contact practices during the season to (2) per week, totaling a maximum of (3) hours per week of full-contact drills.

  4. All youth tackle football organizations in California are required to report any injury requiring the removal of a player from any practice, scrimmage or game to a State-run injury commission for the tracking of youth sports injuries, to include the type of injury, medical treatment received by player and return-to-play protocols followed before the player is allowed to return to full-contact participation.

  5. All youth tackle football organizations in California are required submit all football helmets to the manufacturer or a third-party reconditioning company for the examination, repair and reconditioning of the football helmets on a bi-annual basis, at a minimum

  6. The creation of a state-wide taskforce to include stakeholders from throughout youth tackle football, such football league representatives, safety equipment manufacturers, medical professionals, etc. to continually evaluate changing safety standards and improvements in safety equipment technology on an annual basis and create state-wide safety and equipment standards which all youth football organizations must adhere to.

  7. All youth tackle football organizations in California are required to have a minimum of (1) state-licensed EMT or Paramedic on site during all pre-season, regular season and post-season games; the EMT/Paramedic will have the responsibility to evaluate and remove any player from the game who exhibits and symptoms of a concussive blow and shall not allow the player to return-to-play until the player has completed the CDC Concussion return-to-play protocols.

  8. All youth football organizations in California are required to have a minimum of (1) volunteer present at all football practice locations holding current certification in First Aid/CPR and CDC Concussion protocols; the volunteer will have the responsibility to evaluate and remove any player from practice who exhibits and symptoms of a concussive blow and shall not allow the player to return-to-play until the player has completed the CDC Concussion return-to-play protocols.

  9. All youth tackle football organizations in California are required to inspect youth football safety equipment before every full-contact practice or game to ensure that all players are properly equipped with a properly-fitting helmet and mouthpiece that utilizes a lanyard to attached to the facemask of the helmet (to ensure the mouthpiece is not lost or is failed to be utilized); any player who elects to wear a facemask visor shall only be allowed to utilize a clear visor (to allow for the immediate evaluation of a player’s eyes for concussion symptoms should the player suffer a concussive blow during contact).

  10. All youth tackle football organizations in California are required to provide a minimum of ten (10) hours of non-contact practices at the beginning of each season for player acclimation to safety equipment and conditioning; players are required to wear only helmets during the initial (10) hours of non-contact practices to ensure proper and progressive acclimation to the wearing of the football helmet.

  11. All youth tackle football organizations in California will be prohibited from allowing kick-offs / kick-returns during any part of game play, to include the start of each half or upon change of possession following a score; the potential for injury during kick-off / kick-returns has led to many changes of this rule at the high school, college and professional levels. Youth football will reduce the risk of injury by removing this aspect of the game; the ball will be placed at the 25 yard line to begin play.

We respectfully request the Committee makes serious consideration of the information provided above and reviews the attached supporting research articles and medical documents.  We are confident that by bringing all stakeholders – including players, parents, coaches, league representatives, medical experts, and legislators – together, we can provide the safest possible environment for our youth and continue the long tradition of youth tackle football in California.


Todd Bloomstine

President – Bradshaw Christian Jr. Pride Youth Football & Cheer

Founding Member of Save Youth Football – California

Steve Famiano

Vice President – SoCal Elite Youth Football and Cheer

Founder of Save Youth Football – California Facebook group

Jason Ingman

Youth Football Coach – Sacramento, CA

Founding Member of Save Youth Football – California

Joe Rafter

President – Southern Marin Broncos Youth Football

Founder of

Founding Member of Save Youth Football – California

Ron White

Executive Director – Golden Empire Youth Tackle Football

USA Football – CA Task Force

Founding Member of Save Youth Football – California