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Athlete Safety at GHS

Is the GHS Football Gear Safe?

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Are the helmets our football players wear actually safe?

Are the helmets our football players wear actually safe?

Shayne Harms

Shayne Harms

Are the helmets our football players wear actually safe?

Shayne Harms, Staff Writer

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Parents are almost always concerned about their children. That is a given. What about when they play dangerous sports, like football, wrestling, or rugby? Because of parents being concerned, they try to make sure that the safety gear worn by their athletes will minimize injuries. The NFHS (The National Federation of State High School Association) website states, “While there will always be a risk of injury, minimizing the risk of head trauma and concussion in all sports is a priority for the NFHS.”

Coach Chuck Ball is the athletic director and varsity head football coach at Gunderson High School. When asked if the athletes themselves check their safety gear for discrepancies Ball immediately says, “No, that’s the responsibility of the district. Each year the helmets and the shoulder pads, the two big safety items, are sent into a company, and they have to pass safety standards again, and they’re refurbished”.

Sports injuries and the amount of concussions that come as a result have been a commonplace of debate among important athletes lately. When asked whether or not the students know the symptoms of concussions, Ball, immediately says, “Absolutely!”

The NFHS has certain guidelines for helmets that must be followed. They are called, “The Four Quarters of Football Helmet Safety Publication”, and they basically give instructions for football helmet safety in four different sections.

The first quarter was named, “Proper Fit”, giving instructions for athletes and parents to make sure their helmets have not been overlooked and are up to par. In this section they describe how the athlete must be able to see straight forward, as well as left and right. Also, that their eyes are not hidden. Another part of this section focuses on coverage and details how the helmet should cover the center of their forehead all the way to the back of their head. As well as, the ear holes lining up in the correct place. This also includes the chin strap and fit rules. For example, in the chin strap guidelines they include where the chin strap should fit in different places.

The next section is called Safer Play. This section describes what the athlete and the parent can do together to make it easier to stay safe while playing football. For example, using the correct techniques while playing football, or keeping their head up when tackling, blocking, or hitting.

The next section is entitled Care and Maintenance, going through ways to care for your helmet, and make sure it stays safe for the athlete to use.” It states, for instance, that athletes using the helmet need to “check for missing or loose hardware,” or that they should “not allow anyone to sit or lean on a helmet”.

The last section is called Reconditioning and Replacement. This section goes over the procedure one would need to go through in order to get a new helmet. It also, puts into detail the requirements the helmet would need in order to be used without breaking any rules. For example, the helmet must have a visible date of publication, as well as a label saying that the helmet is NOCSAE (National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment) certified. It also specifies that each helmet should be replaced before the ten year deadline.

It is very important to many student and staff members at Gunderson that all of our student athletes play safe and are never deliberately put into a dangerous situation.

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