Patriots Youth Football coach says proposed ban on tackle football for children is shortsighted
Douglas Difusco, coach of Patriots Youth Travel Football in Naperville, criticized a proposed bill that would ban tackle football for children younger than 12 in Illinois.
Difusco told West Cook News that the legislation introduced by state Rep. Carol Sente (D-Vernon Hills) shows a “narrow view” in its attempt to decrease brain injuries commonly associated with athletes.
He noted that the proposal specifically targets football but does not address other organized sports that could cause injuries such as soccer, lacrosse, hockey and rugby.
Sente recently unveiled the Dave Duerson Act in an effort to prevent children from developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease found in individuals who have experienced multiple brain injuries.
Dave Duerson was a former Chicago Bears player who suffered from CTE and took his life in 2011 at 50 years old.
Difusco said the proposed legislation is based on studies involving players who used protective equipment that are “light years behind” technologies that are available and in use today.
Those new technologies include helmet protection devices such as Guardian Caps and the Unequal Technology helmet liner.
He added that practice theory and player safety awareness have improved over the years.
“Coaches are now required by American Youth Football and/or Pop Warner to go through certification on concussion prevention and awareness yearly,” he said
Difusco said the new bill might lessen the number of kids who would advance to the next level of play and force small youth football programs across Illinois to close.
Difusco recommended other methods to decrease football-related concussions, including increased awareness and education as well as the use of best-in-class equipment and additional helmet protection.