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News from NOCSAE: Football Gloves, Protective Helmets, and More

Date: 8/3/10

SILVER SPRING, MD – August 3, 2010 -- The NOCSAE board met June 18-19 in Knoxville, Tennessee. During the meeting, the board visited the facilities of the Southern Impact Research Center (SIRC). The SIRC is the research center operated by Dave Halstead, technical director of NOCSAE, where most of the initial work on NOCSAE standards is done. The purpose of the visit was to show NOCSAE licensees and board members the current testing procedures and to review test methods as the board discusses changes to NOCSAE standards.

Two new organizations were added to the board in non-voting roles. Both the NCAA and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) were added as non-voting members to the board. With these additions, NOCSAE will have a better understanding of the needs and goals of the two major sport governing bodies in the U.S., as NOCSAE continues to work on development and refinement of standards for athletic equipment. 


The following are the summaries of the key points discussed during the meeting:

Football Glove Standard:

At the request of the NCAA and the NFHS, NOCSAE has created a football glove standard to replace the current SGMA football glove standard. NOCSAE has researched the standard during the last 24 months and recommended a standard. The recommended glove standard will be adopted as written, except the COF for the glove material test will be increased to a maximum of 4.5, up from 2.0 in the original version of the NOCSAE spec. This is recommended to accommodate the use of pebbled glass as the sub-strate test material. If the glove test for the COF is between 4.0 and 4.5, the glove must also pass the peel adhesion test described in the standard. Both the NCAA and the NFHS have agreed to this change. This should allow most of the gloves that are currently in the market and meet the SGMA standard to still be legal for play.

The standard went into effect as of June 2010 as a NOCSAE standard. However, both the NCAA and the NFHS have scheduled implementation for the 2012 football season which means manufacturers have until then to have the new product on the field in compliance. The current SGMA standard is still in place and gloves must meet that standard until the 2012 season. Please note the NCAA color specifications, as described in the NCAA rules, are still in effect for NCAA gloves now and the foreseeable future. Contact NOCSAE’s Mike Oliver (mpo@orlawyers.net or 913.498.8814) to obtain license and license fee information.



RIO is the National High School Sports Related Injury Surveillance System (High School RIO) which has been in place for four years. NOCSAE has been involved through funding to Ohio State and has reviewed the data on an annual basis. The NOCSAE board believes RIO is the best data collection system in place, providing updated, accurate data on the type and rate of injuries in high schools sports on a national basis. This data is helpful in determining the need for, or extent of, coverage a standard for a specific piece of equipment should provide. The NOCSAE board believes every effort should be made to ensure this system continues to have a dependable source of long-term funding; opportunity for improvement; to increase the number of schools reporting data and the representativeness of the study sample; to increase the numbers of sports on which data is collected; to further improve the data collection software to better facilitate data reporting and to facilitate additional research studies in participating schools. To this end, NOCSAE has established a committee to work with Dr. Dawn Comstock and Ohio State to determine the scope, cost and feasibility of expanding the RIO program to meet goals outlined by Dr. Comstock. The data in RIO is available to NOCSAE licensees for research purposes. Please contact Gregg Hartley if you need access to this data (561.543.7789 or hartleyassociated@me.com).


Baseball/Softball Pitcher's Fielder's Helmet:

During the meeting, the NCAA and the NFHS suggested that their baseball and softball rules committees strongly consider a requirement for pitchers and fielders to wear helmets during play in the field. Both organizations requested NOCSAE start development of a standard for such a product. Since the board meeting, NOCSAE has been contacted by USA Baseball which indicated it is considering the same requirement for USA Baseball-sanctioned play. Based on this request, NOCSAE has started efforts involving protective headgear for the pitcher, which may apply to infielders for baseball and softball.  NOCSAE plans to have a draft ready for review with an Ad Hoc group from the industry by mid October. A meeting to discuss this document is scheduled for October 28-29, 2010 at the SIRC facility in Knoxville, TN. If you are in the protective equipment category and would like to attend this review meeting, please contact Gregg Hartley immediately (561.543.7789 or hartleyassociated@me.com).


Football Helmet/NFL Concussion Issues:

During the last year, the NOCSAE board dealt with the increasingly important and difficult issue of MTBI in football. The issue has drawn national attention due to the upcoming negotiations between the NFL and the NFLPA and increasing concerns in the medical community for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in professional players and high visibility concussions at the NCAA level. The board of NOCSAE voted at the June 2009 meeting to make research into MTBI and CTE its highest priority for research dollars. Since that meeting, NOCSAE has received a number of grant requests relating to both topics. During the June 2010 meeting, with the NFLPA in attendance, the NOCSAE board re-emphasized the need to move forward in the area of MTBI. After receiving numerous grant requests, the board formed a committee to focus specifically on MTBI research and grants. Upon review of the proposals, the committee felt none addressed the basic issue of the forces involved in a concussive event well enough to create a platform from which to go forward. The committee restated the purpose of NOCSAE should be to create a standard for managing MTBI much in the way the group managed the creation of a standard for catastrophic injuries in the late 1960s. The committee also stated this program should be given the highest priority and implemented in the next six months. The committee is considering a "by invitation only" working session of key researchers in the field of MTBI and helmet protection. The goal of the meeting is to determine the basic forces involved in a concussive event and strategies for managing those forces. If you are aware of a person who is outstanding in this field, please send their name and contact information ASAP for consideration to Gregg Hartley (561.743.7789 or hartleyassociated@me.com). This is not a guarantee that the person will be invited to the meeting.

The committee is also creating a media/public educational campaign to educate both groups on the level of knowledge available about the cause of concussive events, how best to manage those events, education on proper techniques and rules enforcement, the roles of NOCSAE, sport groups and the medical community relating to MTBI and what are the realistic expectations.

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