Minimum age for tackle football passes in Illinois hearing

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A proposed ban on tackle football for kids younger than 12 has passed its first test, with lawmakers on Thursday voting 11-9 to forward it to the House.

The Mental Health Committee heard testimony from loved ones of former football players, and doctors in support of Rep. Carol Sente's plan Thursday at the state Capitol.

The Vernon Hills Democrat wants to limit youngsters' head trauma. Repeated blows to the head have been linked to the degenerative brain condition chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

CTE is characterized by memory loss, violent moods and other cognitive problems among football players, combat veterans and others who have sustained ongoing head trauma.

Sente named the proposal for Dave Duerson. The defensive back for the 1985 Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears killed himself at age 50. He shot himself in the chest so his brain could be studied for signs of CTE.

The proposal has received push back from coaches, parents and players in local youth leagues, who say  it's important for younger children to get involved in contact sports to better prepare them for the sports they'll play as they get older.