As part of a joint commitment to player safety, a group of sports entities and equipment manufacturers has entered into an unprecedented partnership to create a youth football safety and helmet replacement program for youth in underserved communities. The initiative will remove helmets that are 10 years old or older and replace them with new helmets at no cost to the beneficiary leagues and will provide coaches with the latest educational information to help keep their young athletes safer and healthier.
In its first year, the program is being piloted in four markets: the California Bay Area, Gulf Coast region, Northern Ohio, and the tri-state region around New York City. The NFL, NFL Players Association, NCAA and National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment have committed a combined total of approximately $1 million to the program in its first year. The pilot program is designed to provide valuable information on the state of youth football helmets, including the number of helmets 10 years old or older in use. As of 2012, National Athletic Equipment Reconditioners Association members will no longer recondition or recertify any helmet that is 10 years of age or older. NOCSAE will collect the helmets when removed and use them for ongoing research programs.
USA Football, the sport's national governing body and the Official Youth Football Development Partner of the NFL and NFLPA, will lead the execution of the program. Other partners in the initiative are the NFL, NFL Players Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NAERA, NCAA, NOCSAE and the SGMA. Equipment manufacturers Rawlings, Riddell, Schutt, and Xenith are providing discounted helmets. To learn more or apply for helmets, visit www.usafootball.com/playersafety.
The effort, initiated by CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum, is expected to educate thousands of youth football coaches on vital health and safety issues and provide nearly 13,000 new helmets to youth football players in low-income communities in 2012. Helmets will be distributed beginning in July.
"We are pleased to be part of this initiative, which will give children in underserved communities access to new helmets, and to reach coaches and parents with educational information to help protect young athletes from head injuries," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "This program is part of our focus on player safety at all levels of the game. We are proud to join with these well-respected organizations to make the Helmet Replacement Program a reality."
"The time has come to accelerate the culture change needed to improve the health and safety of youth football players," said Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Tenenbaum. "Even with our push for improved safety equipment, it is vital that parents, coaches and players understand that there is no such thing as a concussion-proof helmet. The best answer is safer and smarter play, which is why this game-changing program is aimed at reducing hits to the head and trauma to the brain. I want to thank everyone involved in this initiative for joining together in a common commitment to youth player safety."
Helmets do not prevent concussions. Therefore, the program includes a strong educational campaign that features important safety information from the CDC, the CPSC and USA Football, including 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, leagues that receive helmets through this program will be required to have their coaches complete USA Football's Level 1 coaching course. Elements of the education component are as follows:
• "Start with Safety": Concussion awareness and response information, featuring links to CDC content and resources
• "Perfect Fitting": Helmet fitting information, including links to manufacturer-specific fitting resources
• "Tackle Safety": USA Football's Tackle Progression Model and Levels of Contact information and videos
• "Helmet Condition": Reconditioning and replacement information