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Report: Helmets Archaic, Don’t Stop Concussions

High School Teams Pay Tribute To Paralyzed Rutgers Player

WEST NEW YORK, N.J. (CBS 2) — A Friday night football tribute was paid to paralyzed Rutgers player Eric LeGrand.

At a high school game in West New York, N.J., a team honored LeGrand by placing his number 52 on their helmets.

And on the Rutgers campus, number 52 jerseys are being sold, with proceeds going to LeGrand’s family, reports CBS 2’s Dave Carlin.

LeGrand was left paralyzed after a head injury during a game last week. His injury is raising questions about whether helmets provide adequate player protection.

Rita Shapskinsky of Jersey City was cheering for son, Blake, but said watching him play always has her fearing for his safety.

“He absolutely loves the game and I pray every night to tell you the truth, because I’m really worried about it,” Shapskinsky said.

Like most players’ parents, she dreads injuries.

It’s a fear that has been exacerbated by a spate of life-endangering mishaps at the collegiate and professional levels. 

And now a new report says players’ helmets may be exposing them to danger.

They are considered the single most important piece of equipment in the game. But are they providing adequate protection?

“The new helmets, you know, I feel pretty safe. You know? But I guess you always gotta be worried,” Blake Shapskinsky said.

“I feel pretty safe out there,” Matthew Apicella said.

Dr. Robert Cantu, co-founder of the Sports Legacy Institute, said helmet standards have remained unchanged since the mid 1970s.

“There isn’t currently a quote unquote policeman in the field checking on these helmets,” Cantu said.

Designed to guard against skull fractures, they fall short of preventing concussions. Even wearing the most advanced helmet, a player’s brain can may be sloshed around during a hard impact.

There were a shocking 55,000 concussions and two deaths nationwide during last year’s football season.

“Research is being done to determine if there is any additions or changes that can be made to make the helmets more protective for concussions,” said Mike Oliver, executive director of the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment.

As helmet research continues experts say everyone must be aware of the risks, and train properly to make this rugged sport less dangerous.

More from Dave Carlin
  • Phillip

    Hey guys. Football, like anything else in our lives, has its risks. We put our lives in the hands of hundreds of strangers in 3,000lb vehicles every time we drive to school or work (many times while ourselves and others are fatigued or under the influece of drugs and alcohol). Many concussions are caused by helmet to helmet contact, or helmet to pad contact. Players are now being taught not to hit with their helmets but are then shown images of professional players doing it on television. Highlights of NFL players making dangerous tackles has a serious influence on the high school players that aspire to be like them one day. Either stop the nasty hits in the NFL or stop advertising them as a an accomplishment and the rate of concussion will drop significantly in both the collegiate and high school levels of competition in football. For girls soccer, raise some real ladies that don’t pull each other’s hair!

  • HeruRaha

    Get rid of the helmet, maybe that false sense of security will be gone, and the game will be less injury-prone!

  • namath

    Why not just make Football a video game so all the 98lb weaklings can be superstar fullbacks on Sunday morning. Look at Australian football no pads no helmets no PPE of any kind. Helmets just give the players a false sense of security,pretty soon they will be wearing so much PPE they will look like the tin man from OZ.

  • jayshway

    Motorcyclists have known this for years. Helmet laws come from helmet manufacturers and well-intentioned people that don’t know the facts.

  • Jay

    But if it’s a NECK injury, which can happen any time in violent football, then a helmet won’t help anyway. No way around it, football is a violent sport and I honestly don’t know why it is even a “game” or allowed. it is not necessary for a sport and should be ended. Plenty of other sports to watch and choose from that are not as violent and life-threateneing injury prone.

    • stephanie

      Hi Jay,

      As a young person, I loved football. Nevertheless, over the years, the violence of it has turned me off a bit, and I don’t watch it like I used to. Okay, living in Germany these days might also have a bit to do wtih that. :) Seriously, though, I read your comment and agreed thoroughly. But then I thought about other things that people do that entail risk, such as driving cars, flying, etc., much of which is also for pleasure or entertainment. Given that there are so many more deaths or injuries attributed to these activities as opposed to football (of course, i am not sure of the per capita statistics), and no one calls for banning cars or planes, I am questioning if football should discontinued any more than planes or cars. Just a question in my mind. Do you have any thoughts on this line of argument?

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