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With about 500 kids playing in Columbus’ PAAL Football League, Gabe Miller wants to do everything he can to keep them safe.
So with many of the organization’s helmets becoming old and worn, he ordered 180 new ones. The Foundation For Youth athletic director hopes the updated equipment will help players stave off concussions.
“We found out when we did our inventory, we had a sufficient need of helmets,” Miller said. “The number that we picked was the perfect number to get rid of the ones that were out of date and keep us as safe as possible. We sort of felt as an organization that the best bet to keep (kids) safe was to look into new helmets and give them the best quality we could provide.”
The new helmets are Riddell Attack-I models. Riddell is the equipment distributor for the National Football League.
Miller said officials of youth leagues in surrounding communities endorsed the Attack-I because of its quality.
“I know that when they went through the national testing that all the equipment distributors go through, this was one of the top placed ones there,” Miller said. “There’s just more padding surrounding the outside of the helmet to absorb some of the impact the kids might have. When there’s more padding, the skull will not bounce around so much, which protects the brain.”
PAAL sponsors football for kindergarten through Grade 6. About 300 to 350 kids in Grades 2 through 6 play full-contact, and those in kindergarten and first grade play flag football.
PAAL also runs spring football for Grades 3 through 8, a 7-on-7 two-hand touch, all-passing league.
Miller started passing out equipment the last week in June.
“All of the feedback we have got from kids that have put them on is that they’re comfortable,” Miller said. “They’re lighter, but the comfort and the protection is a little bit more. That’s always good to hear — to get a little bit of feedback from the kids when they put them on.”
“There is not a helmet out there that will prevent concussions,” Miller said. “That’s what all helmet distributors tell us. But when you have a higher-quality helmet, there’s a better chance of reducing that possibility.”
And that’s an important factor for players, parents, schools and medical personnel.
“Concussions affect every aspect of a young person’s life,” said Dr. Joseph O’Neil, neurodevelopmental pediatrician at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. “The brain takes longer to heal the younger you are.”
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