Youth Football Helmets Replaced in Underserved Community

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The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) today joined National Football League (NFL) Commissioner Roger Goodell in distributing new football helmets to a youth football league in Akron as part of the Youth Football Safety Helmet Replacement Partnership's pilot program.

The initiative is spearheaded by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and is comprised of various sport entities and sporting goods manufacturers, including NOCSAE, the NFL, USA Football, NFLPA, National Athletic Equipment Reconditioning Association, NCAA, Rawlings, Riddell, Schutt and Xenith.

The pilot year of this program had two key objectives: first, to replace up to 13,000 youth football helmets that are 10 years old or older with new helmets at no cost to the beneficiary leagues in underserved communities; and second, to increase player safety by arming coaches with the latest educational information related to player safety, including concussion protection, assessment and management.

NOCSAE, an independent and nonprofit standard-setting body with the sole mission of enhancing athlete safety through scientific research and the creation of performance standards for protective equipment, evaluates youth football helmets to understand better the performance over time of youth football helmets and to inform a potential youth football helmet standard. NOCSAE serves as a leading nongovernmental source for research funding in all sports medicine and science related to concussion in sports. Since 1995 the organization has devoted more than $5 million toward concussion-specific research by the foremost experts in sports medicine and science to develop and advance athlete safety.

"NOCSAE is pleased to participate in the advancement of this program by providing new helmets to youth football players in Akron," said Mike Oliver, NOCSAE executive director.  "This program provides NOCSAE with the opportunity to study the old helmets that are collected, which we believe will substantially contribute to our ongoing research efforts. This effort further supports our mission to drive the science of sports medicine so youth and adults who choose to play sports can know their equipment is certified to standards based on the best available information and to inform potential standards for youth football helmets," said Oliver.

The NFL, NFL Players Association, National College Athletic Association and NOCSAE have committed a combined total of approximately $1 million to the Youth Football Safety Helmet Replacement Partnership in 2012. The program was initiated by the CPSC with the hope that it can be expanded in subsequent years.

The partnership includes a robust educational program from the Center for Disease Control and USA Football that includes materials on concussion awareness, proper helmet fitting and fundamentally sound football instruction with USA Football's Tackle Progression Model and Levels of Contact module. In addition, participation in the program requires league coaches complete USA Football's Level 1 coaching course.

Football helmets certified to NOCSAE standards and properly maintained, reconditioned and recertified play an incredibly important role in protecting athletes, but improved protective equipment is a small part of the solution to providing better protection against concussion. Prevention, diagnosis, treatment and management decisions about when athletes should return to play and enforcing the rules of play to eliminate the use of the head as the first point of contact are vitally important and rapidly can be implemented with immediate positive effects. For the most reliable information regarding helmets and concussion and injury protection and prevention, NOCSAE encourages athletes and parents to carefully review:

Hang tags that come with all new football helmets that address the helmet's abilities and limitations

Informational booklets developed by manufacturers that contain critical information about the helmet's abilities and limitations, proper use, fitting and maintenance.

Warning information that is prominently affixed to the exterior of every helmet and contained in the materials that accompany every new helmet.  

Free, downloadable resources created by the Centers for Disease Control regarding concussion recognition, response and prevention. Those resources can be found at cdc.gov/concussion/sports/.

For more information, please visit nocsae.org. To learn more about the new partnership or apply for helmets, visit usafootball.com/playersafety.