The debate over the future of tackle football in the state of Illinois has heated up since Representative Carol Sente introduced House Bill 4341 to the Illinois House of Representatives.
The bill, dubbed The Dave Duerson Act, aims to lower the risk of concussions and other brain injuries by banning tackle football for ages 12 and under.
Duerson, a former Chicago Bear, took his own life in 2011 after suffering from the effects of CTE, a degenerative brain disease.
Proponents of the bill feel that removing possibilities for hits to the head at a young age could lower the risk of developing CTE, although research is not yet conclusive.
Naperville Patriots Coach and Board Member Doug DiFusco feels that many people don’t realize the strides that have already been made in regards to youth football safety.
“They have incredible structured programs that all coaches go through just to be certified for the coming year,” said DiFusco. “It involves Seahawk tackling, tackling as far as the correct way, concussion protocols, heads up football from USA Today football. The techniques and the equipment youth programs are having now are dramatically different. From a Patriots standpoint, we have tackling wheels for all the teams. We don’t do a lot of live hitting whatsoever. They’re learning techniques on tackling wheels.”
If the bill were to pass, local youth football programs would need to switch to a flag football format or possibly shut down altogether.
The bill was temporarily pulled on March 6 after critics of the bill expressed to lawmakers that parents should be making this decision for their kids, not the government.
While HB4341 may not pass the Illinois House, discussions over youth football safety will continue to be researched, examined and intensely debated for the foreseeable future.
Naperville News 17’s Just Cornwell reports.