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Soccer Helmet Standards Under Discussion

Over 22 persons discussed the possible development of standards for soccer helmets when an ASTM task group met during the May meetings of Committee F08 on Sports Equipment. “Soccer is now considered a contact sport with a high injury rate to the head,” said Calvin Williams of Kangaroo Soccer Headgear, Texas, the chairman of a new ASTM task group on soccer helmets. “Requests for information on soccer head injuries and headgear available come in daily from soccer clubs and groups.”

Williams said the ASTM task group may develop a specification for manufacturers, or a test method of equipment performance and durability for helmets that aid in the prevention of head injury from contact with players, balls, goalposts, or other objects. Additional participation is welcomed to the task group that includes a head sports medicine physician, a test lab supervisor working in sports design and manufacturing, a professor, an attorney, two research and design specialists, a corporate manufacturer, and a general interest party.

According to the U.S. Youth Soccer Association, helmets are not included in the “Laws of the Game” under “Players Equipment.” However, helmets may be worn with the referee’s approval and are required by some amateur teams, Williams said. “The first school to mandate protective headgear for soccer players is in Milwaukee, Wis.,” he added. “Games with the use of protective head gear have been played over the past two years in Marietta, Calif., Kingwood and Houston, Texas, and other cities across the U.S.A.”

Williams, a helmet manufacturer who became a crusader after working with young people in sports, has been informing soccer groups and the public about head injuries shown in medical studies and hospital-admitted cases.

Investigations of these injuries is inconclusive but ongoing by the U.S. Soccer Federation’s Sports Medicine Committee. “Our purpose is to review the available data, discuss the implications found in the scientific literature, and to consider potential avenues for further investigations,” they said in their research summary that references 35 studies including neuropsychologic tests conducted on retired soccer players by A.T. Tysvaer and E.A. Lochen and reported in the American Journal of Sports Medicine examining possible long-term damage to the brain.

“All readers should understand that soccer is a unique sport, particularly in the purposeful use of the head in advancing and controlling the ball,” the Committee reported. “Unfortunately, the ball is not the only thing that can impact the head—other players, the ground, goalposts and other non-game related items (e.g. benches or other objects on the sideline)—head injuries can result from contact with any of these things.”

For further technical information, contact Calvin Williams, Soccer Headgear by Calvron, Suite #113, 1100 Nasa R.D. 1, Nassau Bay, TX 77058 (281/335-3358; 281/335-1767) Committee F08 next meets Nov. 14-17 in Orlando, Fla. For meeting or membership details, contact manager Jim Olshefsky, ASTM (610/832-9714). //

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