SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California Gov. Gavin Newsom says he will not sign a proposed ban on tackle football for children under 12, ending advocates' short-lived hopes of having the bill become law this year.

"I will not sign legislation that bans youth tackle football," Newsom said in a statement to Politico late Tuesday. "I am deeply concerned about the health and safety of our young athletes, but an outright ban is not the answer."

The proposal from Democratic Assemblymember Kevin McCarty would have been phased in gradually through 2029. Last week, a legislative committee sent the bill to the floor of the state Assembly, clearing the way for a vote by the end of the month.

But even if the bill were to pass, Newsom's pledge not to sign it means there is little, if any, chance of it becoming law this year. Although California lawmakers have the power to override a veto, they have not done that in more than four decades.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom says he would not sign legislation banning tackle football for children under 12, likely dooming the bill's hopes after it was sent to the state Assembly. EPA/John G. Mabanglo

The proposal to ban youth tackle football gained momentum this year amid increasing concern about concussions along with the rise in popularity of flag football. The goal was to have kids play flag football until age 12, which would give athletes about three years of playing tackle football before entering high school. Advocates say that would limit children's risk of brain damage, which studies have shown increases the longer a person plays tackle football.

But the bill prompted strong opposition from parents, coaches and kids. Many attended a public hearing in the California Capitol last week wearing their football jerseys while asking lawmakers not to pass the bill.

California has regulated youth tackle football, with Newsom signing a law that took effect in 2021 limiting teams to two full-contact practices per week of not more than 30 minutes each during the regular season. That law also required youth tackle football coaches to have training on concussions and other head injuries.

Newsom pledged to work with lawmakers "to strengthen safety in youth football -- while ensuring parents have the freedom to decide which sports are most appropriate for their children."

"As part of that process, we will consult with health and sports medicine experts, coaches, parents, and community members to ensure California maintains the highest standards in the country for youth football safety," Newsom said. "We owe that to the legions of families in California who have embraced youth sports."

Ron White, president of the California Youth Football Alliance, thanked Newsom for pledging not to sign the bill in a video message posted to X.

"We collectively look forward to working with you and the California legislative body to drive the California Youth Football Act as the most comprehensive youth tackle football safety measure in the country," White said.