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NFL Player Defends Open Playgrounds Bill At Florida Capitol

Jessica Palombo

An NFL football player visited the Florida Capitol today to throw his weight behind a proposal aimed at increasing kids’ access to playgrounds and other school facilities. The bill has passed the Florida House two years in a row but has stalled in the Senate.

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive back Alan Ball joined American Heart Association reps speaking for a measure meant to encourage schools to open up their playgrounds and athletic facilities to the community. Ball says children who lack nearby athletic facilities are likely to turn to sedentary activities like video games.

“Kids having access to do things, whether it’s in their neighborhoods, whether it’s five blocks, two blocks, around the corner, I think them just having access to do things and be active and get off the couch speaks volumes," he said.

School districts say they’re wary of opening facilities after hours because of liability. The measure addresses that concern by making it more difficult for someone to sue over a playground injury.  Schools could be held legally accountable only if they know about but don’t fix faulty equipment.