South River Youth Athletics (SRYA) football officials recently spent $20,000 on state-of-the art concussion-reducing helmets to ensure the safety of its athletes.
For the upcoming fall season, players ranging in age from 4 to 14 will benefit from brand new helmets that provide extra cushion and lower jaw support.
The helmets, provided by Riddell, cost the local nonprofit sports organization $20,000, but it’s an expense that’s worth every penny, according to league officials.
“There are a lot of things we need, but the safety of the kids is number one,” said SRYA Assistant Football Commissioner Charlie Garofolo.
Inside each helmet are several air-filled pads that can be inflated with a pump—one at the back of the head to pad the skull and two on each side of the chin. SRYA Football Commissioner Chris Mercurio initiated the purchase, did the research and worked alongside Riddell to bring the helmets to local athletes, Sweeney said.
Even before the NFL began focusing heavily on player concussions, the SRYA taught concussion-preventive techniques to its players for years, Mercurio said.
“We teach them no helmet-to-helmet contact, proper tackling technique, we take it seriously, we’re not just talking about it,” Mercurio said. “There’s just so much that goes into [leading a football league] … safety is definitely the most important thing.”
The concussion-reduction technology in the new helmets diminishes “action”—the amount of space between a player’s head and the helmet. Less space in the helmet means less of a chance for a concussion. There’s a fine line between safe and uncomfortable, Mercurio said.
“As soon as we started realizing the technology was out there, we knew we were going to get [the helmets],” Garofolo said. “You don’t worry about the cost. You find a way.”
Several kids were wide-eyed and excited as they donned their new, shiny silver, Seahawk-emblazoned helmets. Watch the video above to see why the SRYA spent so much money to ensure the safety of its athletes.