Pro and college football get a lot of attention and even more money. Few people stop to recognize that those organizations and players have to start somewhere. For every pro football player, there was a youth football program that helped him learn the game and hone his skills. Youth football organizations around the country find themselves struggling financially to provide for the needs of its eager young players. Not all overlook youth football, however. Riddell Sports, the helmet supplier of the NFL and Good Sports (a nonprofit) teamed up last year to give a boost to some youth organizations in need.
Benefits to Young Players
It is estimated that around 2,000 young players will benefit from Riddell’s 1000 helmet donation to struggling programs in Arkansas, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Texas and West Virginia. The helmets donated were Riddell Revolution Speed helmets. These helmets are noted as one of the companies’s most advanced in terms of safety tech. The donation was part of Riddell’s incentive to protect athletes through innovative safety technology. In a sport plagued by head injuries the young players who received these helmets certainly lucked out.
For many people who do not live in struggling communities, the importance of such programs and donations can be lost. When it comes to youth sports money is a truly finite resource. Sometimes local governments of a community will allot a small amount of money for recreational sports, but not often. The lack of reliable funds sends many teams on fundraising missions within the community, but for areas where low income and poverty are the norm these efforts rarely bear fruit. In the end caring parents make up a large make up of youth sports donations, but the average parent can only pay so much and the money given can only go so far. The cost of purchasing sports equipment will surely be lost on those unfamiliar with such purchases. A single football helmet costs around $100 at a minimum, if you look into helmets with advances safety tech you are looking at a cost between $160- $299. When you consider the number of kids a single team has it is easy to see how money runs out quick in youth sports organizations not fortunate enough to be rolling in cash.
When companies such as Riddell reach out to help communities provide equipment for their players it not only helps provide a basic need, it protects the young athletes’ benefiting from the donation. When helmets become old and worn from overuse, their integrity is compromised, meaning the safety of the person wearing that helmet is compromised. Any helmet over 10 years old needs to be retired, no questions asked. Up until the 10 year mark reconditioning helmets can be done, but after 10 years or a little sooner depending on amount of use, a helmet is no longer considered safe. In addition to the structural integrity of helmets, sometimes inner padding becomes worn or falls out long before the helmet is over worn. Many coaches will purchase new padding that may not necessarily match the helmet, but fit none the less and recondition helmets themselves. This can be risky as helmets must fit an individual’s head perfectly to offer real protection. When corners are cut due to money constraints the safety of players gets put on the line. This is why a giant hats off should go to Riddell and all others who help ensure that youth football programs can keep providing for the next generation of NFL stars.