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Schutt Sports Talks Youth Concussions on Sports Pro Community Network

Date: 11/19/10

Litchfield, Ill. – Nov. 19, 2010 – Schutt Sports CEO Robert Erb joined a panel of experts across the medical, academic and equipment manufacturing fields, Thursday (Nov. 18), to discuss the importance of preventing concussions in youth athletics. The conversation was broadcast live through the online Sports Pro Community Network.
“We have an ethical, moral and financial incentive to do everything we can to stop concussions,” Erb said. “But the reality is that we’re facing a difficult process.”
According to Erb, these challenges include the variability of how football is played during games, practices and drills; the different sizes, ages and power of athletes; the decision of how much weight to put on the helmet while focusing also on heat issues and more.
“Still, we’ve been at this for 30 years and we pride ourselves on relentless innovation,” Erb said. “We believe we can improve each year, and we do our best to cascade those learnings down the product line for the youths as quickly as possible.”
The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) regulates the minimum testing requirements helmet manufacturers must meet. Schutt’s “relentless innovation” includes going beyond the bare minimum.
Erb used the NOCSAE drop test as an example.  The test involves using gravity to simulate a hit. The minimum requirement may be 9.3 meters per second squared, but that does not keep Schutt from testing at 11.3 meters per second squared.
“Our helmets are used by about 30 percent of the NFL, 50 percent of college and high school players and the majority of youth,” Erb said. “We have a large responsibility. These days, players are faster and stronger and the game itself is more sophisticated, so it’s really everyone’s responsibility. The responsibility belongs to coaches, academics, medical professionals, NOCSAE and even the media, in addition to us.”
Despite the challenges helmet manufacturers – along with all equipment manufacturers  – face, Erb believes that continued devotion to innovation and education can make a difference. 
“As long as people are aware of the dangers associated with concussions and they are reporting injuries, we’re going to get better and better at what we do,” Erb said. “We know what we’re trying to accomplish. Moving faster at the expense of wiser is not a good idea. We can do better as a community, but we need to do it right. We don’t want to rob players from what is a very rich experience.”

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