March 14, 2011

Old Helmets No Longer

Filed under: Sports Law — Giorgio Varlaro @ 1:45 am

Submitted via Google Images

With growing concerns in football participants head injuries, both amateur and professional, the National Athletic Equipment Reconditioners Association (NAERA) announced recently a change in the protocol in relation to the use of helmets. No longer can high schools and colleges have helmets which are outdated or 10-years or more old.

NAERA’s decision started rolling when Joy Conradt, whose stepson, Max, was permanently disabled in 2001 by concussions he sustained playing Oregon high school football in a 20-year-old reconditioned helmet. Due to the defect in the helmet, the family sued the school district, its insurance carrier and the reconditioning company and settled out of court for $3.2 million in damages toward Max’s lifelong medical care.

Before this recent ruling, coaches were only to have helmets refurbished at their own discretion, thus helmets of any age and condition could be worn despite concerns over how the stiffening of foam and the degrading of the polycarbonate shell could’ve made a player more susceptible to concussions.

The new ruling for refurbished helmets has met many notable concerns for parents and individuals who decide to participate in football. However, with this new ruling, more stress is put on a school’s budget which has decreased in most states in recent years due to the economic down turn. The price of refurbishing a helmet usually costs schools $30, but with this new ruling, schools could be looking at spending $150 to $300 on helmets.

With NAERA looking to enforce their new helmet rule this coming fall, schools have some issues that need to be sorted out within their annual budget. Is the decision by NAERA to have helmets replaced every ten years a good decision? Should school make students who want to play football responsible for buying a helmet that potentially relieves them from serious head injuries? Should schools look to get more tax money or fire teachers so students can have the opportunity to play football?

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