IL lawmaker wants to end tackle football for players 12 and younger

The Dave Duerson Act to Prevent CTE is named for the Chicago Bears defensive back who was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy after he killed himself at the age of 50.

A proposed law being introduced Thursday will call for a ban on tackle football for kids under 12 in IL. "Don't think about protecting the game, think about protecting football players". "The data is showing us that while concussions are bad, the more detrimental thing that happens in tackle football is the repeated sub-concussive hits over seasons, over years".

"When my father tragically took his own life, he donated his brain to science in hopes of being part of a solution", said Duerson's son, Tregg.

"Children as young as five are playing tackle football, they're taking hits at practice and at games", Sente said.

"I believe that youth sports in general are as unsafe as any other sport as long as the proper safety precautions are taken and the proper equipment is used, I don't think there's just one sport that's more risky than any other", states Central Illinois Youth Football League President, Bill Harmon".

Both the National Football League, which has grappled with fallout from CTE in recent years, and youth football leagues have made changes to limit injury and head contact, enacting measures such as requiring players who suffer a suspected head injury to receive medical clearance before returning to play. The bill would create the "CTE Prevention Act" and bar children under the age of 12 from participating in any "tackle football offered by an organized youth sports program".

"On the football field, we're paying attention to the bright, shiny object - concussion - because it's obvious", said Dr.

CTE research has also changed the way people look at football. "Some parents are not comfortable having kids play football and that's OK, but many parents are and we want the parents to make that decision based off of the information that they have, not an IL law", said Mike Assaad, who runs the youth football program in Elmhurst. "We think the life lessons, experiences and memories from playing this great team sport far outweigh the risks".

Among those speaking in support of the act on Thursday were two former Chicago Bears: Otis Wilson and Mike Adamle. He said CTE has for years been a regular topic of conversation among retired players.

"There are a lot of individuals who have this issue and with more research being done hopefully we can combat this", Wilson said.

Sente said that even if the research on CTE risks for young football players isn't definitive, the trend is clear enough to demand action.

If approved IL would be the first state to ban youth tackle football.

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