Illinois

Proposed Legislation Aims to Ban Tackle Football for Kids Under 12 in Illinois

A proposed law being introduced Thursday will call for a ban on tackle football for kids under 12 in Illinois, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Local leaders, a group of former NFL players and physicians are expected to introduce the Dave Duerson Act, new legislation "aimed at reducing head injuries in football."

The act is named after the former Bears player who took his own life in 2011. He was later found to have suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a debilitating brain disease that has been linked to concussions and repeated blows to the head. 

"Through research on my father's brain and others we now know with certainty that part of the solution is to guard young children's brains from the dangers of tackle football," Duerson's son Tregg said at a press conference. 

The legislation is being introduced by state Rep. Carol Sente and aims to "call for new protections for youth football."

Former Chicago Bear and NBC 5 sports anchor Mike Adamle also spoke at the event, which highlighted the bill's proposals. 

"It's eventually going to kill me. I don't know when," Adamle said of CTE. "But I found out that there are things you can do to abate the decline that happens in all of us, and that's what I'm trying to do." 

Not everyone agrees with the new proposed legislation. John Calabria, head of the Schaumburg Athletic Association's football program, says the legislation is over-reaching. 

"You're not getting that growth, that ability to be a teammate," he said. "Hard work, ethics, all that is taken away. Yes, you get some of that with flag football, but not to the fullest effect as with tackle (football)." 

Pop Warner, one of the country's premier youth football organizations, is also against the proposal. 

"We can't imagine elected officials mandating to parents which sports their children can play," the organization told the Chicago Sun-Times. "While we encourage conversations on player safety, we do not agree banning football for young people is the answer." 

Still, proponents of the bill say that the dangers outweigh the risks. 

"This isn't about an act to ban tackle football," Concussion Legacy Foundation CEO Dr. Chris Nowinski said. "This is about an act to prevent children from being hit in the head hundreds of times through sports each season." 

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