Alternative to Illinois House Bill 4341 Restricting Tackle Football Until Age 12
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In response to the passing of Illinois House Bill 4341 through the Illinois House Mental Health Committee, which restricts tackle football to youth below the age of 12, the following serves as an alternative that does not include restricting the participation and performance of athlete while addressing and elevating the concerns of head/brain injury caused by contact. Through education and reform, the safety of the athletes will be at the forefront of the coaching process while maintaining and preserving the integrity of the sport of football. To note, these alternatives cannot/will not prevent injury at a 100% rate as no athletic sport competition can give such assurance. With the understanding of what HB 4341 is trying to obtain, HB 4341does not provide reform or any alternative as it pertains to the safety of athletes. At the age of 12, the human body has developed dramatically. In not preparing athletes for contact by putting a concern on their safety at a younger age, athletes are possibly in a more dangerous spot when making contact at the age of 12 as compared to what they would be at the age of 7. The following alternative, if implemented at a younger age will assist in the prevention of head injury as well as increase the already improved safety measures that have been in place in the sport of football.
1) Creation within the Illinois High School Association an oversight committee dedicated to youth football within the borders of the State of Illinois.
a) Ability to regulate rules, methods and processes of youth football organizations.
b). Oversight and enforcement of adopted safety policies.
2) Standardized Tackling
a) Make Rugby Style Tacking the mandatory tackling format for youth football
i) Preferred for High School Football
b) Equip High School Football Coaches to teach Youth Football Coaches and athletes the correct tackling technique. Certification.
c) Formulate and evaluate metrics for all youth programs/coaches.
3) Mandatory Tackling/Safety Courses and Requirements
a) Youth Football Coaches and Administration
i) Course to be completed every two years.
b) High School Football
i) Course to be completed every 4 years.
(1) Currently under IHSA policy, safety is only required once.
c) Allow/require organization to add 1-2 days to beginning of season to focus on tackling concepts, technique/form and protocols.
4) Mandatory Standardized Concussion Protocol and Training
a) Youth Football
i) First Concussion - 10-day recovery from concussion.
(1) Must have 3 full days of contact practice, after completing 10-day recovery period, before able to play game
(a) Example 1: Concussion on game day, must sit out next game (10 days). After 3 days of contact practice, if cleared, can play the game 2 weeks from concussion date.
(i) Game Sunday, must sit out 10 days (Second Wednesday). Practice Thursday-Saturday. Able to play that Sunday.
ii) Second Concussion - Must sit out rest of year.
iii) Third Concussion (within youth career). No longer allowed to play youth football. Coaches meet with parent on consideration of continuing to play the game.
b) High School
i) First Concussion (within a year) – 7-day recovery from concussion.
(1) Must have 3 full days of contact practice, after completing 7-day recover period, before able to play game.
(a) Example 1: Concussion on game day, must sit out next game (7 days). After 3 days of contact practice, if cleared, can play the game that week.
(b) Example 2: Concussion on Wednesday (Friday Game), must sit out the game that week. If cleared in 7th day, will only have 2 days of practice (Wednesday and Thursday) so will not be able to play that week.
ii) Second Concussion (within a year) – Must sit out rest of year.
iii) Third Concussion (within high school career) - Coaches meet with parent on consideration of continuing to play the game.
(1) Follow First Concussion protocol.
iv) Forth Concussion (within high school career) – No longer able to play football in the State of Illinois.
c) Create an education platform on concussions to keep coaches informed on developments concerning concussions and CTE.
5) Nutrition and Mental Health Exercises (Brain Games)
a) List foods that help brain development.
i) Create a rebate to coaches for buying such items.
b) Develop exercise to help brain function and make available to youth athletes.
6) Mandatory Equipment Checks
a) IHSA produce inspection personnel to do equipment checks on helmets (possibly shoulder pads) on a bi-yearly basis.
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