Robert Blumenstock’s 7th grade son, Rowan, suffered a concussion while playing football in Plano last year. It’s why Blumenstock is working to keep his son and his new team at J.L. Long Middle School safe.
“I introduced myself to the coaches, and I happened to see some of their equipment and I was like, 'Are these your football helmets?' And they said, 'Yes, they are,'” Blumenstock said. “He explained to me that we only get so much budget to put toward helmets.”
Blumenstock said some of the helmets are six years old, and technology has changed drastically even within the last three years. Texas allows schools to use helmets for up to 16 years.
“I just thought they could be improved, because there has really been a lot of changes in concussion technology or concussion-prevention technology since those helmets were issued,” Blumenstock said.
Some parents buy their players new helmets every year, but others don’t have the ability to pay $150 to $200 for a new helmet. That’s why Blumenstock is working to raise $15,000 to pay for 60 new helmets for J.L. Long Middle School 7th and 8th graders.
The middle school has received some new helmets from the district, and coach Greg Trevino said they are used mostly by the 8th graders.
InvestigativeInvestigation Prompts Helmet Changes at Local School
Dallas Independent School District said all helmets used in the district are reconditioned often. As for J.L. Long Middle School, Trevino said a vendor from DISD evaluates the helmets each year and removes the ones that don’t meet their standards.
Not all North Texas school districts can say the same. An NBC 5 Investigation found at least eight North Texas high schools using older helmets that rated poorly in a Virginia Tech study – helmets the researchers said could put players at greater risk for concussions.
The Virginia Tech study only rated adult-size helmets used by high school and college players. Virginia Tech has not rated youth-sized helmets worn by most middle school players.
While none of the schools using the worst-rated helmets is in the Dallas Independent School District, parents everywhere are now paying closer attention.
“Ultimately, it's about their head protection, and that's the most important part when you're playing football,” Blumenstock said.