CHICAGO (CN) – A bill introduced Thursday would ban tackle football in Illinois for children younger than 12 years old, citing the impact of head injuries on developing brains.
"We all want kids to have fun playing football and to learn to play the game the right way early on," State Rep. Carol Sente, D-Vernon Hills, said in a statement. "But the overwhelming data and powerful stories of our supporters here today show the risks of playing tackle football before turning 12 just aren't worth it.”
At a news conference Thursday, Sente introduced HB 4341, also called the Dave Duerson Act to Prevent CTE, in honor of the former Chicago Bears defensive back diagnosed with chronic encephalopathy.
At age 50, Duerson fatally shot himself in the chest and donated his brain to be studied for signs of the neurodegenerative disease.
"When my father tragically took his own life, he donated his brain to science in hopes of being part of the solution," his son Tregg Duerson said at the news conference, according to the Associated Press.
A study last year found CTE in 99 percent of brains studied from deceased National Football League players. Of deceased former high school, college and pro football players, CTE was found in 177 of 202 brains.
The disease can manifest itself through cognitive impairment, memory loss, violent moods and depression.
The bill states that “athletes who begin playing contact sports at younger ages are at greater risk for neurological impairment later in life.”
“Several published studies show that exposure to tackle football before the age of 12 is associated with a greater risk of neurological impairment than exposure to tackle football starting at or after the age of 12,” according to the bill.
Sente introduced the bill with the help of Chris Nowinski, director of the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
"This isn't about an act to ban tackle football," Nowinski said, according to the AP. "This is about an act to prevent children from being hit in the head hundreds of times through sports each season."
Lawmakers in New York have also proposed a bill that would bar tackle football for children under 12.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.