Illinois Lawmaker Proposes Ban on Youth Football Over Brain Injury Fears

AP Mike Roemer
AP Photo/Mike Roemer

An Illinois lawmaker has introduced a ban on tackle football for children under 12 years over fears of brain injury and concussions.

Democrat state Rep. Carol Sente, (Vernon Hills) cites worries over the long-term impact that the sport supposedly has on a player’s brain due to repeated blows to the head. The bill is “aimed at helping youth enjoy the game while reducing long-term health risks,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

Rep. Sente is calling her bill the Dave Duerson Act after the Chicago Bears player who eventually committed suicide in 2011 at age 50 over his ongoing health and mental health problems. Doctors later found the retired player had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease linked to concussions.

Several players joined Rep, Sente for the announcement of her bill. Along with Duerson’s son, Tregg, former Bears players Mike Adamle and Otis Wilson came out to support the bill.

Sente cites a recent study published by Boston University that links CTE with football. Indeed, the study insists that CTE can start before a concussion is diagnosed.

“This paper provides the best evidence to date that CTE is triggered not by concussion, not by concussion, but rather by hits to the head, irregardless of whether it results in concussion or not,” Dr. Lee Goldstein said on January 18. “The vast overwhelming majority of hits are occurring, and no one’s paying attention.”

Illinois is not the first state to look at banning youth tackle football.

New York state Assemblyman Michael Benedetto has also proposed a ban on tackle football for children under 12 in the Empire State.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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