Alton, IL

Support Wanes for Tackle Football Ban

Story by WBGZ Radio

Support for an Illinois youth tackle football ban for kids younger than 12 is falling off as members of the community defend the safety of the sport, but the bill’s sponsor says she’s just calling a timeout to huddle with others.

State Rep. Natalie Manley, D-Joliet, said she’s pulling her support for a bill that would keep kids in Illinois from playing contact football until they’re 12.

“I will not be supporting House Bill 4341,” she told a Joliet radio station Friday, adding that she had spoken with members of the community and has changed her mind on the ban that she had previously voted for in committee.

The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Carol Sente, D-Vernon Hills, said the bill isn’t dead. Her spokesman said Monday that the representative is using the coming month away from the statehouse to continue to talk with members and figure out the best way to move forward.

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“[Rep. Manley] continues to work with her fellow lawmakers to educate them on the science and medicine behind the bill, and to find the best path forward in the coming weeks to make football safer for youth,” Ryan Kieth, Manley’s spokesman, said.

Mike Barry with the Illinois 8 Youth Football league said it’s not government’s place to decide how the sport is played.

“The government has no right to come in and tell us as parents, ‘This is way it should be done. This is the way we’re going to do it,’ ” he said.

At a committee hearing where the measure was endorsed, a supporter of the ban raised eyebrows when he slammed a football helmet against a child-sized mannequin wearing a helmet, knocking its arms off.

Barry said the demonstration was a terrible representation of what kids do on the field.

House lawmakers aren’t expected back in Springfield until April 6.

(Copyright WBGZ Radio /


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