• JOHN O'CONNOR AP Political Writer

Proposed Illinois ban on youth tackle football dead for now


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A proposal aimed at delaying the effects of helmet-banging head trauma by banning Illinois children younger than 12 from playing tackle football lacks the votes this spring, its sponsor Rep. Carol Sente

Legislation similar to Sente's is in play this spring in New York, New Jersey, and California. Last month, a Maryland House committee voted down a prohibition on tackling before age 14.

Some fans argue that when a kid plays football is best left up to parents. They say that a delayed introduction to the gridiron means young kids won't learn necessary skills to safely succeed later, even if they play the non-contact flag-football version.

Jon Butler, executive director of the Pop Warner youth football organization, which operates in 37 states and suits up 225,000 players aged 5 to 15, said CTE research is in its infancy and "we have a lot to learn." He noted Pop Warner limits practice-time contact, bans head-to-head contact drills, and has begun a "rookie-tackle" league on a smaller field.

"We're going back to teaching blocking and tackling the way we did 40 years ago, using your shoulders and arms and not the head, which intuitively makes a lot of sense anyway," Butler said.

Chris Borland former NFL linebacker and Big Ten Player of the year for the University of Wisconsin testifies before the Mental Health Committee hearing in Springfield, IL on House Bill 4341, which would ban tackle football for kids under the age of 12. Democratic State Representative Carol Senate, third from the right, the sponsor of the proposal told the Associated Press Wednesday 4/18/2018, the measure lacks the votes to pass this session.

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