Safety in Football

January 29, 2015
With the first few weeks of football underway, there are continued concerns about athlete safety. In response, the National Athletic Trainers Association has re-issued its statement on crown of the helmet violations and offers several resources.


The National Athletic Trainers' Association has re-released an official statement regarding the calling of crown of the helmet violations in an effort to ensure sports safety at every level of football participation. The statement recognizes the work of the NFL, NCAA, and National Federation of State High School Associations, which have studied injury patterns and created rules related to top of the head contact.

To review the full statement, please visit: http://www.nata.org/official-statements/CrownOfHelmet.pdf.

"The current recommendations are critical to help prevent injury to the head, neck and spine," says Jon Heck, MS, ATC, director of athletic operations, Richard Stockton College, "including concussion and catastrophic cervical spine injuries for both students and professional athletes. Unfortunately, the enforcement of these rules has been uneven and infrequent."

According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, there were 34 catastrophic head or neck injuries and nine related fatalities from 2010-2012.

The new official statement urges game officials, coaches, administrators and others to do their part in ensuring penalties are assessed when violations of these rules occur and recommends that:

- Players should understand a helmet protects the head from blunt trauma injury. It does not prevent concussion or protect the spine and should not be relied on for that purpose.

- The best way to keep players safe is for coaches to teach the rules, players to follow the rules and officials to enforce the rules.

- For the safety of tacklers, blockers and ball carriers, it is imperative that the rule is uniformly applied at all levels of play and that the use of the top of the head is always called a penalty.

"Putting these guidelines into action will help ensure a collective and collaborative team approach to sports safety across the football practice and game landscape," adds Heck. "They must be taken seriously, implemented vigorously and adhered to at every level of play. It can be a matter of life and death or other possible catastrophic outcomes."

The official statement was developed by NATA and is fully supported by the following organizations: Academy for Sports Dentistry; Advocates for Injured Athletes; American College Health Association; American College of Emergency Physicians; American Medical Society for Sports Medicine; American Osteopathic Academy for Sports Medicine; National Academy of Neuropsychology; Professional Football Athletic Trainers' Society; and the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation.

For additional resource information, please visit www.nata.org or:

NATA's position statement on head down contact and spearing: http://www.nata.org/sites/default/files/HeadDownContactAndSpearingInTackleFB.pdf

The association's educational concussion video titled Heads Up: http://www.nata.org/Heads-Up

Or NCAA's 2013 player safety video: http://s3.amazonaws.com/ncaa/web_video/football/2013playerSafetyTargetingHD.html



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