A bill that limits full-contact practices for high school football teams is heading to the governor's desk.
The Senate on Thursday approved AB2127 by Democratic Assemblyman Ken Cooley of Rancho Cordova on a 23-5 vote.
The bill limits drills involving game-speed tackling to 90-minute sessions twice a week, while prohibiting such full-contact drills in the offseason. It applies to public, private and charter schools.
Although most coaches already abide by similar rules to protect student safety, Cooley said he was responding to growing anxiety from parents about the risks associated with concussions.
The issue was even highlighted by the White House, which hosted a summit about youth sports safety and concussions.
The bill has the support of the California Interscholastic Federation, which oversees high school athletics.
San Jose-resident Vincent Polanco suffered three concussions when he played high school football. He said players will likely get hurt even more under the proposal because they won't have as much experience being hit.
"It's football. It's just how the game is," Polanco said. "You come in. You know what's going to happen. You expect it. You can't prevent it."
Others are concerned the proposed bill would put California student athletes looking for college scholarships at a disadvantage and won't be able to compete with players from other states that have unlimited full-contact practice.
"Many of them can't afford to go to school," said Nick Alfano, football head coach for Santa Teresa High School in San Jose. "And so if we're going to hurt our chances for kids to make scholarship opportunity then we need to be careful of it. It would be unfair."
Meanwhile, parent Marlo Sander hopes Gov. Jerry Brown approves the practice limitations.
"Their safety comes first," Sander said of student athletes. "That's for sure."