NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — There are calls being made on Long Island for new rules to protect student athletes from unsafe equipment.
The pleas include helmets offering substandard protection or the opposite, helmets so powerful they could hurt others.
Shoreham-Wading River’s Tom Cutinella was a revered high school athlete with dreams of playing for West Point when he collapsed and died on the football field after a freak hit.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, a safety check revealed Cutinella was wearing a district issued helmet.
Not everyone on the field was wearing district issued gear. Students in New York are allowed to wear their own equipment if it meets national code, but there is no state oversight requiring safety checks.
High school hockey coach Kerry Zelanka thinks more regulation is necessary.
“Absolutely, I think the state should regulate this. Safety is crucial, vital,” Zelanka said.
Parents and coaches said letting schools operate independently allows too much wiggle room.
“I think it’s really important to look after the safety of these kids and make sure they can avoid these injuries,” parent Christina Mackay said.
The Suffolk and Nassau Public High School Athletic Associations did not make themselves available Wednesday, 4 months after Cutinella’s death.
Shoreham-Wading River confirmed to CBS2 that it is now recommending that all students in contact sports no longer be allowed to wear their own helmets, pads, and masks. Gear that parents purchase may not undergo the same rigorous yearly testing required of district certified equipment.
“They get hit in the head, if the equipment isn’t up to speed it’s going to be an issue,” former athlete Jose Lopez said.
Doctors say young players with developing brains are most vulnerable and need protection of the highest standards.
“Most commonly an athlete will just say they don’t feel well, have a headache, sick to their stomach. Those are cues we need to pay attention to,” Dr. Jose Prince, Cohen Children’s Medical Center, explained.
Last year 1.24-million children were seen in emergency rooms for sports injuries according to SAFE KIDS Child Injury Prevention.
Shoreham-Wading River board members will evaluate costs and determine if it is necessary to provide every piece of equipment for student athletes in the district who play contact sports.
Those sports include football, lacrosse, baseball, softball, ice hockey, and field hockey.