FTC Urged to Investigate Football Helmets

Senator Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) is making headlines this week as the man leading efforts by Senate Democrats to reform rules governing filibusters. As the New Year begins he also, however, is emerging as the congressional point person for a very different issue: traumatic brain injuries, specifically those sustained while playing football.

According to The New York Times, Udall is calling on the Federal Trade Commission to “investigate what he called “misleading safety claims and deceptive practices” among helmet manufacturers and refurbishers.”
As I noted in this post last fall, safety standards for football helmets have not changed meaningfully since the early 1970s. The Times article notes that Udall “took specific aim at Riddell, the official helmet manufacturer of the N.F.L., for its prominent claim that its popular Revolution models decrease concussion risk by 31 percent.” Udall contends that the testing standards used to evaluate helmets – along with much of the advertising based on those tests – are misleading. A spokesman for the company told the Times that Riddell welcomes the scrutiny, but hopes other helmet manufacturers will be subjected to it as well.

Perhaps the most shocking detail of this story, however, is buried far down: the fact that 4.4 million children under 18 play football in America and that they suffer around 500,000 concussions each year. Put another way: 1 in 9 youth football players suffers a concussion in any given year. In a country that is becoming more and more concerned about traumatic brain injuries in general, and TBI among children participating in sports in particular, these are sobering numbers.

Oregon parents concerned about the effect of football and the possibility of Oregon child injuries resulting from games played using inadequately tested or maintained equipment should consider contacting an Oregon traumatic brain injury attorney to discuss the effects the game may be having, especially on younger players.

New York Times: Senator calls for helmet safety investigation