David Alan with WVEC 13 News Now discovered that potentially unsafe football helmets are being used in Chesapeake, Hampton, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach. In fact, WVEC 13 News Now uncovered 20 high schools in Hampton Roads using helmets not recommended by a group of Virginia Tech researchers analyzing the efficacy of football helmets.
In 2010, Virginia Tech released a five-star rating system for football helmets. The 20 Hampton Roads high schools used helmets with only 1 or 2 stars, meaning they posed a greater risk of not adequately protecting a player’s head from injury. Since Virginia Tech released its rating system, colleges and the NFL got rid of their low-rated helmets. In fact, Tech’s five-star rating system is posted in every NFL locker room today, according to the13 News investigation.
Some people may be thinking, “Oh, it must be a money issue. High schools can’t afford fancy, expensive helmets.” Wrong. One Virginia Tech researcher stated that more expensive helmets do not necessarily correlate to safer helmets and, in fact, some of the cheaper models are safer. The researcher added that the total cost to supply a Hampton Roads high school team with safer helmets would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $5,000 and $10,000.
It’s quite shocking to learn that there are schools in our community who would throw caution to the wind and utilize lower-quality helmets that may not properly protect our children from serious head trauma. As mentioned above, the NFL quickly took notice of the Tech research and upgraded their helmets. High schools should certainly follow suit, considering the fact that the human brain does not fully develop until age 25.
Our children deserve better. The schools found to have unsafe helmets need to upgrade sooner rather than later.