Our Chicago brain injury attorneys were happy to hear that the nationwide company that refurbishes old football helmets for use by schools will no longer accept helmets that are older than ten years old for reconditioning. All helmets used in schools are supposed to be sent out to be reconditioned after every season in order to help make sure that the helmets will continue to protect the players. The reason for this limit on how old of helmets the company will accept is that in light of all the newer data on what increased concussions can do to a player long term, the company does not feel that it is safe to recondition helmets that are over ten years old.
According to STL Today, this new policy has been received both positively and negatively by school officials and coaches at schools. Many coaches recognize the importance of not using helmets that are too old, in that they may not offer the same protection to the players as newer helmets can offer in terms of safety. Also school representatives feel that this new policy is good for schools from a legal standpoint. Schools have a duty to act responsibly in supervising their students and athletes and need to make decisions to best protect and keep the students safe. If the school fails to act in this manner they may face a brain injury lawsuit if a player gets hurt on their watch. Given all the wear and tear that a helmet can go through in ten years, advocates of the change in policy feel like this is absolutely the best decision to make in order to hopefully reduce the number of head and brain injuries to athletes.
However, there are also school officials and coaches that do not feel like this policy is necessary to keep students safe. While the school officials and coaches do agree that safety is the number one issue, they also argue that this policy change is not the least restrictive way to achieve safety for the student athletes. One issue they raise is that not all helmets are used all the time for the ten year period, and often times helmets that are a unique size or have other unique characteristics may be rarely used. The argument here is that the proponents think that requiring that all helmets may not be used after ten years, as oppose to just ones that were regularly used, is a waste of money to schools.
Another worry about the new policy is whether schools that lack the money to purchase new helmets once the ten years have run on others will continue to use the old helmets without them being reconditioned. This would defeat the purpose of what the new policy is trying to accomplish and would likely place student athletes at a much more serious risk of head trauma and increase the brain injuries we see as a result of sports related head injuries.
So while it is extremely important to make sure that all athletes have helmets that are up to standard and can protect the student athletes from personal injuries while on the field, these safety measures will not work unless the schools and coaches are also committed to the player’s safety.