Join debate of bill banning preteens from tackle football

  • Former NFL linebacker Chris Borland, who quit playing amid fears of long-term neurological health concerns, testifies at an Illinois House Mental Health Committee hearing this month on a bill that would ban children under age 12 from participating in tackle football programs throughout the state.

    Former NFL linebacker Chris Borland, who quit playing amid fears of long-term neurological health concerns, testifies at an Illinois House Mental Health Committee hearing this month on a bill that would ban children under age 12 from participating in tackle football programs throughout the state. Associated Press File Photo/March 1, 2018

 
 
Updated 3/29/2018 12:58 PM

A roundtable debate of a bill that would ban Illinois children under the age of 12 from playing tackle football is slated for Monday evening in Vernon Hills.

Registration is still open and doors open at 6:30 p.m. at the Vernon Hills Park District's Sullivan Center at 635 N. Aspen Drive. To register for the "Debate of Illinois House Bill -- Dave Duerson Act to Prevent CTE in Youth," visit eventbrite.com. Seating is limited.

 

Daily Herald Opinion Editor Jim Slusher is moderating a roundtable discussion featuring legislators, doctors, coaches and others.

The bill was filed in late January, passed out of the House Mental Health Committee this month and is up for debate by the full House when it reconvenes next month.

The bill's chief sponsor, Vernon Hills Democratic state Rep. Carol Sente, will be joined by Dr. Chris Nowinski, Dr. Larry Robbins and Tregg Duerson as proponents of the bill. Nowinski is a top concussion researcher, Robbins is a local neurologist who urged Sente to push the legislation and Duerson is the son of deceased Chicago Bear star Dave Duerson, whose brain trauma from years of playing football was considered a factor in his 2011 suicide.

"For me, I want to continue the process of educating as many people as possible about why this is an issue, both to gain support or at least to help educate so parents can make the decision about if their child should play the game," Sente said about the upcoming debate.

Chicagoland Youth Football League President Geoff Meyer will be joined by other youth football coaches and local medical experts who believe the bill is unnecessary.

Supporters of the bill have argued that younger children are more at risk for brain trauma from contact sports like football because of their still developing bodies. A Boston University study last year linked participation in youth tackle football before age 12 with impaired mood and behavior later in life.

Opponents argue that better coaching of tackling techniques and shorter practices will cut down on injuries and decrease the likelihood of concussions that can lead to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, a degenerative brain disease linked to the deaths and health issues of many former football players.

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