The National Athletic Equipment Reconditioners Association (NAERA) has announced that it will no longer accept football helmets for reconditioning and recertification which are more than 10-years old. The policy, adopted at the group's annual meeting, will become effective at the start of the reconditioning season on September 1, 2011, as many schools have already paid for their helmets to be reconditioned for use this fall.
The 10-year cutoff will be determined by the manufacturer's date. For example, at the end of the upcoming 2011 football season, any helmet dated 2002 or older will not be reconditioned/recertified.
NAERA is an association of 21 athletic equipment reconditioners and 4 helmet manufacturers who are licensed by the NationalOperating Committee for Sports Equipment (NOCSAE) to recertify helmets according to the NOCSAE standard.
Recertified helmets are identified by an appropriate NOCSAE seal affixed by the reconditioner inside the helmet: "This helmet has been RECERTIFIED according to the procedures established to meet the NOCSAE STANDARD." Only reconditioners who have been licensed by the NOCSAE may affix the NOCSAE seal.
The new rule will force organizations to either purchase new helmets to replace those 10 years or older. "There has been growing concern that we make some sort of a policy to make coaches and parents do what we think is correct," said Ed Fisher, NAERA's executive director in an interview with the New York Times. "As a current coach and former administrator, I would want my son, and anybody's son, to be in a helmet less than 10 years old. We need to get the older ones off the field."
After learning of the NAERA's decision, USA Football immediately posted the announcement on its website, on Facebook and via Twitter, and in a statement to MomsTeam said it fully supported the new policy, and would "continue to make recommendations to youth football league commissioners and USA Football members on the proper storage, refurbishment, and replacement of football helmets." It also "expressed the hope that other sports which employ helmets, such as baseball, hockey, lacrosse and others, do the same."
The financial impact of the new rule on school and youth football organizations, already under budgetary stress as a result of the weak economy, may be considerable, since reconditioning old helmets costs about $30 per helmet, while new helmets can cost from $150 to $350 a helmet, depending on the helmet.
For its part, USA Football awards $1 million in equipment grants each year that can be used for the purchase of new helmets, and provides fundraising and financial management assistance to youth football leagues, with the expert help of its sponsors.
Sources: National Athletic Equipment Reconditioners Association (NAERA); New York Times; USA Football.
Posted March 11, 2011