One of the most beloved sports in the whole of the US is football…but, it’s also one of the most dangerous. Whether you play football yourself, or you have a family member or child who plays, safety should be your biggest concern. The most important piece of safety equipment for football? The helmet.
The proper fit of a football helmet is essential to safety. When wearing a helmet, the eyes should be visible, and the athlete should be able to see both straight ahead and side to side. The helmet pad must cover the head of the athlete from the mid forehead to the back of the head. Make sure the helmet is not sitting too high or too low, too. To check this, look into the ear holes of the helmet; you should see the ears lining up with the holes.
The chin strap is also an important part of the helmet, and it should fit snuggly right under the chin. It’s also important to wear a mouthguard in order to reduce the risk of mouth or facial injuries. There should be no gaps between the head and the pads, and when the chin strap is in place, the helmet should not slide around.
Why is the Fit So Important?
If a helmet doesn’t fit well, it can put an athlete at risk for injuries. Helmets are known to also reduced the risk of skull fractures and brain injury, but keep in mind that concussions are still possible, even when wearing a helmet.
Play Football Safer
Just because a player has a helmet on, that doesn’t’ mean that the head is totally and completely safe. Players should never lower their head or lead with a helmet. Using proper tackling and blocking techniques is imperative. It’s also important for players and their families to understand the signs of a concussion. The player should immediately be removed from the field if these signs are noted, and medical attention should be given. Though most athletes fully recover following a concussion, it’s best that the player stays off the field until the concussion is fully healed.
Caring for Equipment
Making sure a helmet fits correctly and knowing the signs of concussion are extremely important. But, so is ensuring that a helmet is in good working order. An athlete should never, for instance, wear a helmet that is broken or cracked. Each helmet should also be checked to make sure there is no loose or missing hardware. It’s also a good idea for helmets to periodically be checked and recertified by a member of the NAERA (National Athletic Equipment Reconditioners Association.) Experts also recommend that all helmets be inspected for manufacture date along with the dates they were reconditioned or recertified. If these dates are not visible, the helmet should not be used. According to the policy of the NAERA, helmets should only be used for about 10 years from their manufacturing date. Most require replacement even earlier than that, though, because of wear and tear.
Whose Responsibility is it to Keep Football Helmets Safe?
Though coaches, equipment managers, and parents should all be aware of the state and condition of a helmet, ultimately, at the end of the day, it is the player’s responsibility to ensure their helmet is in good working order. Though football helmets do keep the head relatively safe, there is certainly a risk of injury when the helmet is not used correctly. Yes, it’s certainly possible and common to fully recover from a concussion, but there is also a lot of research that shows the long-term effects of a concussion on the brain. Not to mention the long-term damage that other brain injuries could have.
Playing football is a relatively safe sport, but injuries definitely can happen. Making the choice to ensure the football helmet is worn correctly, is in good condition, and well-maintained could be the difference between a safe and injury-free football career and dealing with brain issues for the rest of a player’s life. If you are new to the game, feel free to talk to a coach or other football aficionado. They can surely help to set the record straight on football helmet safety.