Bill Would Require Safer Helmets for Young Football Players
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
A Tulane University football player suffered a fractured spine Saturday; the result of this helmet to helmet hit while making a tackle. It's unclear whether Devon Walker will ever walk again.
Senator Charles Schumer wants to make the game as safe as possible for young football players. He was at Gates-Chili High School Monday pushing the Children's Sports Athletic Equipment Safety Act. It will focus on safety standards for helmets used by youth and high school football players.
"The only standards we have for football players 18 and under is they have to prevent your skull cracking when you have a lot of force. Now that doesn't do the job because we've learned that concussions and other things are serious, so what we want is to set standards for helmets for young people,” said Schumer, (D).
Doctors at the University of Rochester Medical Center say since the awareness of concussions has gone up in recent years, more young football players are being treated for concussion like symptoms. They believe new safety standards will help reduce the number of concussions in that age group.
"Athletes, if they're not diagnosed properly, might have a hard time and struggle at school, may have a difficult time keeping up with their academics and may have mood problems, but long-term perhaps, we worry about even more is that if the take too many hits, and we don't know what that number is. Over time, they could develop early onset Alzheimer’s or other types of neurological diseases,” said Dr. Mark Mirabelli, URMC.
At Gates Chili, the head football coach reviews the warning label that's located on the back of the helmet with his players before each season begins. Jason Benham says it's also important that every player know the proper blocking and tackling techniques.
He says every coach throughout the area and across the country does the same things to ensure players don't use their helmets as a weapon. Most high schools can't afford to purchase new helmets every year and instead use refurbished helmets that still cost nearly $300 apiece.
"On a personal issue, I have an eighth grade son and the first thing I did was check his helmet. He plays in another district. He grew up through the youth system and that's where they really have to take a look because there's plenty of subpar helmets down at that level because of budget,” Benham said.
It's also recommended when choosing a helmet that it not be too loose and has a snug fit.
"Every helmet should fit you right, especially before a game. We make sure all your equipment's set up straight, tightened and make sure it's not loose or anything,” said Jacquis Webb, Gates-Chili lineman.
Schumer says several medical and professional groups support this legislation, including the American Academy of Neurology and the National Football League Players Association.