Groups Join Forces to Replace Old Youth Helmets with New Ones

Whether it is the right thing, or the politically correct thing to do; it doesn’t matter.

The bottom line is that the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced a plan this weekend to distribute new football helmets to a youth football league in Akron as part of the Youth Football Safety Helmet Replacement Partnership’s pilot program.

And that will help a small group of youth football players, who have or are about to snap their chin straps in place.

The program 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 the program has 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 non-profit 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 non-governmental 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.

“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,” said Mike Oliver, NOCSAE executive director. “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 an 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.

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