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NYC Considers Bill Requiring Doctors At All Youth Football Games, Practices To Protect Athletes From Concussions

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The New York City Council has decided to tackle football safety.

A new bill proposes putting doctors on the sidelines at youth games and practices to help prevent and treat concussions, CBS2's Sonia Rincon reported Friday.

The city's Public School Athletic League (PSAL) has already taken concussion prevention head-on, thanks to a grant from New York Giants chairman Steve Tisch that covers the cost of putting a doctor or athletic trainer at every single practice for the next season.

"Making sure that we have the best health and safety policy out there, certainly for any large, urban public schools athletic league, is absolutely critical for us, and what the council is doing is absolutely right," said the Department of Education's Eric Goldstein.

What City Councilman Stephen Levin of Brooklyn is proposing is requiring a doctor at every youth football game, and a doctor or athletic trainer at any practice involving tackling.

Dr. Joseph Maroon is a neurosurgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He testified at the hearing in support of the bill, offering technology that would allow a virtual doctor on the sidelines.

"You have an iPad where you can literally ... the doctor can see the patient, can see the athlete and literally with a trainer, even a parent, examine and question and evaluate the patient," Maroon said.

Dr. Peter Salgo said it's not just software that would allow doctors to monitor players. There's hardware available, too, that would make helmets work like data recorders, measuring the impact of every hit.

"For the first time, we can monitor them and tell folks when it's happened," Salgo said.

But former Pop Warner League President Lloyd Rodriguez said many teams could not afford the doctor-trainer formula, WCBS 880's Rich Lamb reported.

NYC Considers Bill Requiring Doctors At All Youth Football Games, Practices To Protect Athletes From Concussions

A lot of the questions at the hearing had to do with how to pay for all those doctors and athletic trainers at the games and practices. Some of the city's independent sports leagues that are not affiliated with schools said they are worried about concussions, but they're also worried about burdening families with potentially discouraging costs, Rincon reported.

Courtney Pollins, with the Big Apple Football League, which is mostly middle school-age kids, said youth sports are vital in the city's poorer communities, and families won't be able to afford an extra fee to have a doctor at practice.

"We have to work to make sure children are in a position that they can be successful," Pollins said.

As far as the city is concerned, the bottom line is the proposal is all about safety.

"Nobody wants to put our local football league, who's been in our communities for 20 or 30 or 40 years, out of business," Levin said. "That's not our goal at all. What we want to do is make sure that we have a standard of care that is there on sidelines, at our games, at our practices, to ensure the safety of our children."

Levin said the city will work with those leagues to help make initiative affordable.

The council has not set a date for a vote on the bill, Rincon reported.

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