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Illinois government should work on economy, not football

Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013 8:46 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, March 21, 2013 8:50 p.m. CDT

So, in the best interest of you loyal Gap Shots & Whiffs' readers out there, I have spent the better part of 20 minutes finding out what the heck Rule 22(g) means. This in terms of Illinois General Assembly House lingo.

As you may or may not know by now, that's what has happened to the status of a proposal made down in Springfield on Wednesday by the name of HB 1205. You may better recognize it as the Football Practice Hitting Limitation Act. This was presented to an Illinois House Committee this week in an effort to try and eliminate tackling by youth and high school football teams in the offseason and limiting them to twice a week in season.

The idea to create a law was the "brainchild" of State Representative Carol Sente (D-Lincolnshire) and it was shot down or "killed in committee" as State Representative Pam Roth (R-Morris) told me on Wednesday. Actually, at the time, the Elementary & Secondary Education Committee had only stalled the bill by voting it down — reportedly 5-6 — that day.

Procedurally,  Sente was then allowed another "bob at the apple" again in committee on Thursday, but it again was punted out of the chambers. Not sure what that vote was, but then HB 1205 was "tabled pursuant to Rule 22(g)" according to ilea.gov. For those that care, that means "in committees, only two passage roll call are allowed".

Roth and State Rep. Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) are on the Elementary & Secondary Education Committee and it is clear that they were both in opposition to HB 1205 after talking to their constituents in the days leading up to the committee vote. Here in Morris, that Town-Hall style meeting was held by Roth in the MCHS auditorium on Monday.

"The General Assembly should not be stepping over the IHSA by intervening in school sports," Roth said after the meeting.

"The State of Illinois does not need to be legislating how best to serve the children and coach football," Wheeler said.

I was glad to see this act not even get out of committee and representatives like Roth and Wheeler should be thanked for their role in HB 1205's demise.

Everyone agrees that the issue of safety for the kids should always have the highest priority. That goes for all sports and not just football. That is why I don't understand why Sente chose to focus on football alone. For example, studies have shown that soccer players who "head" the ball — you know, bounce it off their noggins to re-direct it — may be "causing measurable damage to their brains, even if they never suffer a concussion". This according to a report that came out in November by the Los Angeles Times.

Why not create a law against children heading a soccer ball?

Hey Sente, why do you not care about soccer players, too? Or the 18,246 baseball and softball players under the age of 15 who sustained a concussion in the season studied, according to that same LA Times report. There were more reported concussions in those three sports together than in football in cited statistics from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

But that's actually beside the point.

The measures the IHSA have taken in the last several years have drawn high praise almost all the way across the board for the way it has addressed concussions. There are a strict set of guidelines already in place to protect the kids — particularly in football. Heck they can't even have their helmet come off now without them having to leave the field immediately and consult the athletic trainer on the sideline.

The IHSA is the governing body in this instance and the IESA almost always follows suit with any changes in safety regulations. That means the same protective measures are being filtered down to the youngest of kids, as well.

You see, Sente, that's what governing bodies do — address the needs of the masses.

I say let the IHSA stay on (and in my opinion stay in front of) sports safety. In the meantime Sente, why don't you try to find a way to get the Illinois governing body to create jobs, entice new business to want to come to the State and eliminate some of that $270 billion deficit we have on the books? I always though those were the kind of things the General Assembly was supposed to be doing.

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