The Uncertain Future Of Youth Football

Sep 26, 2018
Photo via Pixabay

For many people, the return of fall is marked with crashing shoulder pads and Friday night lights. Football season is back. But in Illinois, there is something else in the air this year.

"Football helmet" by Flickr User Ramon Saroldi / (CC X 2.0)

New data show that the percentage of Illinois youth diagnosed with concussions grew by 83 percent between 2010 and 2015.

The Chicago Tribune reports that diagnosed concussions among Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois members between the ages of 10 and 19 increased from a rate of 7.6 per 1,000 members in 2010 to 14 per 1,000 members in 2015.

Blue Cross is Illinois' largest insurer with over 8 million members.

Blue Cross senior medical director Dr. Stephanie Vomvouras attributes the increase to greater awareness of concussions.

Legendary Chicago Bears coach and NFL Hall of Fame player Mike Ditka said Monday that he wouldn’t trade anything for the pleasure he got from playing 11 seasons in the NFL.

But he says the league needs to own up.

“I know there is a obligation and responsibility and that falls on the hands of the National Football League right now,” he said. “It’s time they settle all these problems right now and take care of the players that need help.”


Days after an Illinois high school student died from football injuries, a Cook County judge dismissed a lawsuit alleging the sports' governing body didn't do enough to protect athletes.

There have been lawsuits against the NFL, but the one brought against the Illinois High School Association a year ago was the first class action suit against a prep sports governing body.

A former South Elgin High School lineman, Alex Pierscionek, says he suffers from memory loss after getting concussions in games; he alleges the IHSA fails to protect athletes.


The problem of concussions in youth athletes is getting more attention than before, but it’s unclear whether coaches and parents really understand how to handle the injury. Northern Illinois University’s kinesiology department head is looking for financial help in addressing the issue.