Illinois legislation would ban kids under 12 from playing tackle football

An Illinois state legislator has introduced a bill which would ban organized tackle football for children under the age of 12 in an effort to decrease head injuries, which can potentially cause Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

The CTE Prevention Act, also known as the Dave Duerson Act, was introduced at a press conference in Chicago, with the bill noting that published research shows "exposure to tackle football before the age of 12 is associated with a greater risk of neurological impairment.” The bill’s namesake was a member of the 1985 Super Bowl-winning Chicago Bears team and played in the NFL for more than a decade. After Duerson committed suicide at the age of 50, it was discovered he was among the deceased former NFL players who had CTE. 

“We all want kids to have fun playing football and to learn to play the game the right way early on,” the bill's sponsor, Illinois state Rep. Carol Sente, said in a statement. “But the overwhelming data and powerful stories of our supporters show the risks of playing tackle football before turning 12 just aren’t worth it.”

The supporters of the legislation said the goal is to protect children's health, not punish a specific sport. 

“This isn’t an act to kill football,” Chris Nowinski, CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, said at the press conference. “This is an act to prevent children from being hit in the head hundreds of times a season."