EAST PEORIA - Some football coaches think a newly proposed state bill could block them from teaching the most fundamental part of the game.
Each year, thousands of kids play football in the state of Illinois, and all of them learn how to tackle. And one lawmaker's attempt to tackle concussions isn't sitting well with coaches.
Doug Martin, East Peoria head football coach, says his number one priority is the safety of the kids on his team. But lately, something else has him fired up.
"I would be very nervous on Friday nights," he said.
He's talking about House Bill 1205. The recently proposed asks to limit tackling in high school football to one practice per week. It's latest play to reduce concussions in sports, and was proposed by Rep. Carol Sente, D-Lincolnshire.
But does it open the field for other injuries? Martin thinks so when you take away the ability of coach to teach tackling in a controlled environment.
"Remove yourself from the concussion discussion altogether, then I think you also have to concern about neck injuries," said Martin. "That to me, if you say concussions is here as far as coaches' concern, that's right along with it."
The IHSA is against the bill. It already has rules in place to address sports concussions, and feels no need for legislators to further restrict tackling in the game.
"We actually think that's counterproductive," said Marty Hickman, IHSA executive director. "One of the things our coaches have to do is teach our kids how to lock and tackle. And we don't think they can do that if you can only tackle one day per week."
Martin believes more can always be done when it comes to the safety of athletes. So he understands where the bill is coming from, but he does not agree.
"The spirit of the bill is coming from the right place. We're trying to make sure we're providing a safe environment for kids to participate in football. I understand that is the spirit, but I think it's just a little misguided," he said.
Martin says some coaches have suggested other options like requiring a certification for properly fitting a helmet.
A committee hearing for this bill is scheduled for Wednesday.