Youth Tackle Football Ban Likely Dead in Illinois

Paul Steinbach Headshot

A bill that would have banned tackle football for children younger than 12 lacks sufficient support to proceed through the Illinois Legislature.

State representative Carol Sente, a Democrat from Vernon Hills, had spearheaded the so-called Dave Duerson Act, and hopes it still has a future despite the fact she is leaving the assembly. "Passing this bill is an extremely important goal to me," Sente said, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. "I don’t plan to call the bill for a vote this year, but I’m going to keep it open because every week there is new information."

Duerson, a safety on the Chicago Bears 1985 championship team, committed suicide at age 50 and was later found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy. His son, Tregg, stood with Sente when she unveiled the legislations in January. The bill also received support from scientists and former football players, but was opposed by youth football coaches. "Coaches and parents are looking at safety in everything we do," said Jeffery Nicoll, president of the Bill George Youth Football League, which covers 19 towns mostly in DuPage County and allows kids to begin participation as early as the second grade. "Given the changes to tackle football in the last four to five years, not to mention the last 20, it is much safer. CTE is not an issue with youth football as it is at the college and pro level."

Added Bob Anderson, a coach and board member of the Junior Spartans in Northbrook, "We had 100 kids play tackle football last year and there were zero concussions."

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