CLEVELAND - Normally, the biggest concern for youth football teams during the summer months is the northeastern Ohio humidity zapping the energy out of young players at each tryout. This summer, it's the wait for an email.
USA Football, the sport's national governing body, is the official youth football development partner of the NFL and the NFL'S Player Association. It has committed $925,000 to a new program to create youth football safety and helmet replacement in underserved communities targeted for select cities.
Cleveland is one those targeted.
Teams or leagues interested in replacing any helmet 10 or more years old have until May 30, 2012 to apply for financial help in the form of vouchers.
As of Tuesday morning, 92 football leagues submitted completed helmet replacement applications on USA Football's website. Of the 21,000 total helmets, 6,700 are 10 years old or older.
There are 22 licensed helmet re-conditioners in the United States who repair helmets for all levels of football teams. All Sports Services on Perkins Avenue in Cleveland is one of those licensed shops committed to helmet safety in its repair, especially immediately after the end of football season. The new initiative for a 10-year rule on helmets has been a standard for helmet manufacturers such as Ridell, but the new move to implement this on every program, at all levels, will put a dent in All Sports Services' inventory.
"Now we're finding out that repeated minor concussions can have long term effects. The NFL and everybody else is trying to see what they can do to improve the padding, the whole operation of the helmet and everybody's at work at that. It isn't going to happen overnight, but it's a step in the right direction on the bottom rung, on the youth level," said Hans Dollhausen, president of All Sports Services, who has been reconditioning helmets for seventeen years.
The local director of the Greater Cleveland Muny Football League Joe Reccord is hopeful the program will bring the vouchers his league's way to raise safety levels and replace the almost 1,000 ineligible helmets they now have in stock.
"The national reconditioning association (N.A.E.R.A.) decided not to certify anything over 10 years. That really put a dent in our program, now we're talking up to 1,000 helmets that we have to take out of play. We have anywhere from 2,700 to 3,200 playing in our league. So that is almost half the helmets," said Reccord. "If we don't get this voucher, we would have less teams."
Teams will receive new helmets with latest technology through the program. Those helmets will still have to be recertified for safety after two years in service by a licensed re-conditioner.
For information on the Cleveland Muny- Football League, or more information regarding All Sport Services' helmet reconditioning prices see the links below.
All Sports Services email: email@example.com