SPRINGFIELD — A bill to limit youth and high school football teams from tackling missed its mark down in Springfield last week - twice. Proposed House Bill 1205 was in Elementary & Secondary Education Committee, but a motion to pass it failed.
Brought up a second time, the bill was turned down once again by an 8-5 vote.
The bill, known also as the Football Practice Hitting Limitation Act, was introduced by State Representative Carol Sente. The bill, if made into law, would have restricted teams with kids under the age of 18 from padded practice in season and would have abolished offseason tackling altogether.
75th District Representative Pam Roth, who sits on the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, put together a town-hall style meeting on Monday at Morris Community High School to get the opinions of her constitutions leading up to the vote. After that meeting, Roth came out in opposition to the bill.
“From what I understand, many of the schools have already gone to two days of tackling a week during the season, and though they can have 20 days of tackling in the offseason, most don’t use all of them. This bill would have cut that number down to zero,” Roth said. “Essentially, what that means is kids who are just starting out, like my son (Jakob, 11) would have maybe had four practices before he would have started live hitting. I know when he first started, he didn’t get it right away. It took him a while to learn how to tackle.”
Roth says the oversight currently in place and implemented by the IHSA already takes the health of football players, and all other sports for that matter, seriously.
In a release, IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman said that he feels his association has been very proactive in regards to head injuries, amongst other things.
“We are on the same page with Representative Sente on the dangers of concussions, but continue to have a differing viewpoint on how we should address the issue in Illinois moving forward,” Hickman said. “Risk minimization is a high priority for the IHSA and we feel that we have proven at a state and national level that we have effective systems in place to institute quality measures to maximize the safety of our student-athletes.”
Roth had said in a statement before the vote that the General Assembly should not be stepping over the IHSA by intervening in school sports, “no matter how good the intentions of the sponsor might be.”