The Virginia Tech Helmet Lab has just released ratings for twelve different flag football helmets, and experts say the findings could change the dynamic of the sport.
“There’s no other data available on these so there’s not a standard they’re required to perform to,” said Steve Rosen, director of the Helmet Lab.
“This is leading edge in that we’re providing data to people to let them know what’s good and what’s not to let them make informed decisions.”
Out of the twelve helmets tested, only two of them had a five-star rating meaning they provide the optimal protection against injury. That means there’s good and bad news for players.
“There are things you can do to reduce risk,” said Rosen.
“It’s a non-contact sport. Players still hit their heads. Head impacts are accidental, but if you’re wearing good head protection you’re going to reduce risk.”
Rosen says research like this could change the dynamic of the sport itself. According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, the amount of teens that play flag football is on the rise. They estimate more than 1.5 million kids aged six to 17 play the game. With little data and lots of players, helmets could be the new norm.
“Some leagues are already requiring headgear to be worn for every game that they have,” said Rosen.
“I think that’s going to become the norm across the nation.”