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ESPN panelist suggests that tackling should be banned until high school


Manish Mehta is a name that many will recognize from his work with the New York Daily News as a columnist covering the NFL and the New York Jets., while others will recognize him as a panelist on ESPN's The Sports Reporters.

As a wrap up to The Sports Reporters show, "Parting Shots" are often taken by panelists to close the show, and it was there that Mehta made an interesting suggestion, which was that tackling should be banned until high school.

Over the past several months, the Ivy League has announced that they won't be tackling during practice in-season, and most recently, Ohio Northern went overseas to Europe for a game against the Roma Grizzlies of Italy and competed in a controlled scrimmage without tackling. In short, limiting contact is something that programs everywhere are exploring, but this is the first time I have seen this suggestion.

Many communities across America already have parameters in place where kids play flag football up until middle school, and then put the pads on from there, but Mehta's suggestion takes that a step further.

"Tackling should be banned until guys have more qualified instructors in high school. Nuero-scientists have already cautioned that long term effects of repeated blows to the head can be more detrimental to a younger, developing brain."

As the backdrop for his stance, Mehta talks about Donovan Hill, a 13 year-old kid out in California that recently died after a surgery related to an helmet-to-helmet hit he suffered five years ago during a Pop Warner tackle game. Hill's family won a landmark settlement after it was found that Donovan's coaches taught reckless tackling techniques.

That lawsuit helped spark change, including Pop Warner's recent decision to ban kickoffs during games. Instead of kickoffs, balls will now be placed at the 35 yard-line during youth games this fall.

Full video of Mehta's one-minute "Parting Shot" isn't embeddable, but you can head here to see the clip, which he ends by saying: "Football's invaluable life lessons will endure without all of the collisions. Children should learn from this sport, not die because of it".

What do you think? Good idea. or is there an alternative out there better? Feel free to send ideas and suggestions to or via Twitter @CoachSamz.