Imagine a world where the state can interfere in your child’s day-to-day life, governing something as familiar and as commonplace as the after-school sports and activities in which your child plays or participates such as dancing, cheerleading, or football? Sounds like something that can’t possibly happen in the USA, the land of the free, right? Does it seem like an overstep of the government’s authority to intrude? What if the reason for the state interference is based on claims of medical necessity would this then justify the government having the final say?
Earlier this month, a proposal went up before a state Assembly committee in New York State, proposing that children 12 or younger should be prohibited from playing tackle football. Tackle football is currently under scrutiny due to increasing diagnoses of NFL players with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain disease caused by repeated, severe impact to the head. Notable figures such as President Obama have expressed their concerns about their children participating in the sport, and a recent poll conducted by Pittsburgh’s Robert Morris University revealed that 46.7% of parents were likely to discourage their children from playing football altogether.
Other studies support an opposing perspective revealing that young children, from the ages of 8 to 12 are too young and too small to be able to hurt each other so severely or to cause significant damage. In addition, certain measures have been taken to ensure that children can play tackle football safely. For instance, youth-football leagues have implemented rules to reduce the risk of head clashes and offer training that caters to children’s specific age and size to encourage safe play.
Upset that the state could possibly govern when their children can and can’t play football, parents have been pushing back against the proposal. Parents argue that they should be free to make informed decisions for their children about whether or not their children should participate in the sport. If the sport of football is banned from kids of a certain age altogether, that choice is completely taken away from the parents. The issue raised by this proposed law is whether the government should decide what is potentially so dangerous to children that the activity is banned altogether. One can take the view that perhaps tackle football is too dangerous for children. But if football is to be banned for kids of certain ages due to potential danger, where does the government intrusion line get drawn? – Does this mean that other contact sports that pose potential danger to children such as soccer, gymnastics, dance, diving, or cheerleading should also be banned?
Based on the US Constitution, as interpreted by the US Supreme Court, it is not up to the government to decide when or whether children can or can’t play a sport or other activity. These choices must be made by parents and taking this right to away from parents interferes with the parent-child relationship and directly infringes upon the rights of parents.
To further explore this compelling and controversial issue, read the rest of the article here:
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