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NOCSAE Makes Standards Decisions on Lacrosse, Field Hockey, Football, and Baseball/Softball

Date: 1/30/12

To: SGMA Membership

From: SGMA

Date: January 30, 2012

From January 20-21, the winter meeting of the NOCSAE Board of Directors was held in Phoenix, Arizona. During the meeting, a number of sporting goods equipment issues were addressed by the NOCSAE Board. Listed below is a summary of the key points which were discussed at the meeting.

1. Women's Lacrosse. NOCSAE has been asked at previous meetings by US Lacrosse to develop a standard for face protectors for women's lacrosse. After research and reviewing the level of protection requested by US Lacrosse, NOCSAE has indicated, in its opinion, that it is not possible to provide the standard US Lacrosse wants for face protection, without the use of a full helmet. At this time, US Lacrosse has indicated that it does not wish to introduce a helmet to play in women's lacrosse, out of concern that doing so would raise the level of aggressive play. NOCSAE continues to have discussions with US Lacrosse on this standard. US Lacrosse asked ASTM to consider developing a standard for face protectors for women's lacrosse. To date, no action has been taken by ASTM yet on this request.

2. Lacrosse Ball. While reviewing ball impacts on men's lacrosse helmets, NOCSAE has determined most lacrosse balls are far more rigid than prescribed by the NOCSAE standard or by performance standards specified by the NCAA or US Lacrosse. The NFHS requires lacrosse balls to meet NOCSAE standards, but the requirement is not enforced and few companies claim their balls are NOCSAE compliant. The NCAA and US Lacrosse do not require balls to meet the NOCSAE standard for play, but their own performance specifications. Most lacrosse balls, used in NOCSAE lacrosse helmet testing, are far stiffer than allowed by the NOCSAE standard or the performance specifications in the NCAA or US Lacrosse rules. Due to several skull fractures due to ball impacts, NOCSAE has asked US Lacrosse and the NCAA to mandate the NOCSAE standard for play and for the NFHS to enforce the standard requirements in high school play. All organizations are currently reviewing NOCSAE's request. If the organizations do not implement the NOCSAE standard for lacrosse balls, NOCSAE will consider revising the standard for lacrosse headgear to include protection from impacts delivered with the more rigid ball.

3. Field Hockey. NOCSAE is reviewing the interaction of the field hockey ball and face protectors for field hockey, based on failures of face protectors when hit by balls. Additional information on these tests will be available in the near future.

4. Football Gloves. The NOCSAE standard for football gloves has been scheduled for implementation by the NFHS for the 2012/2013 season and for the 2013/2014 season by the NCAA. The NFHS has been asked by the SGMA and the NSGA, on behalf of their members, to delay the implementation of the glove standard until the 2013/2014 season. A final decision on that request will be announced by the NFHS on February 7.

5. Youth Football Helmet Standard. The Youth Football Helmet Standard, which was moved to proposed status at the NOCSAE meeting in June of last year, was moved back to draft status by the NOCSAE Board. The NOCSAE Scientific Advisory Committee will continue to develop research to determine the need for and parameters of a possible youth football helmet standard. The draft standard will be available to the public and concerned parties by request to the executive director or technical director of NOCSAE.

6. Baseball/Softball Fielders Helmet Standard. The proposed standard for a fielder’s helmet for baseball and softball, which was moved to proposed status at the NOCSAE Board meeting last January, was moved to final status during this meeting. The standard will go into effect in January of 2013. The development of the standard was requested by USA Baseball. Currently, neither the NCAA nor the NFHS will mandate the use of a fielder’s helmet for play in games they sanction. However, if a state federation, state conference or NCAA conference mandates the use of a fielder’s helmet, then it must meet the NOCSAE specifications. The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) may be the first state federation to mandate the use of a fielder’s helmet in games which it sanctions.

All of the standards referenced in these six points may be found at www.nocsae.org/standards/documents.html where they can be downloaded in PDF format.

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