FROM THE SIDELINES: Regulations keep players in the game
by Mason Shelton, Trigg County Student-Athlete
Aug 27, 2014 | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When I am gearing up for practice or a game, sometimes I wonder if I was dressing for football or preparing to enter the Coliseum as a Roman Gladiator. This task of assembling all of the protective gear usually takes me about twenty minutes. First, I have to change into my padded shirt and padded pants. Then, I put my kneepads, hip pads, and tailbone pads into my pants. Last, I put my shoulder pads on, strap up my rib protector, and force my head into a tight-fitting helmet.

While this can become aggravating at times, it is an absolute must for football players. As bulky and heavy as protective equipment may feel, players have to protect themselves as much as possible.

During the offseason, all helmets must be shipped off for reconditioning. They check for cracks, defects, and even age. Helmets that do not meet the requirements or have been in use for more than ten years cannot be used. Trigg had twenty-seven helmets that were not certified for use after last year’s season. Believe me, some of the older helmets needed replacing. Players referred them as “buckets,” because that’s exactly what they felt like.

Look at how much equipment that football players must wear from a monetary standpoint. The cost to outfit an average football player in protective equipment (which excludes shoes, socks, jerseys, etc.) is roughly $600. The only sport that would even come close to that is a catcher in softball or baseball, which usually costs around $225. Keep in mind that all players in football have to wear protective equipment, whereas catchers are the only players on their team who are issued this much protective gear.

Even though players suit up in $600 worth of equipment, other safety measures must be taken. There are many rules, laws, and regulations to make sure players in all sports are safe.

Since outside fall sports start during the intense heat of summer, trainers and coaches must monitor the weather. According to athletic trainer, Josh Severin, if the heat index is 94-104, players must take a ten-minute water break every thirty minutes. They must also take off anything not needed for safety. In football, a lighter practice will resume without helmets and shoulder pads.

In a game situation, if the heat index is over 100, players are required to take a ten-minute water break every thirty minutes. If the heat index is over 105 at any practice or game, play is delayed until it cools off. Games and practices are also stopped with lightning and resume thirty minutes after the last strike.

If a player is suspected to have a concussion, the KHSAA (Kentucky High School Athletic Association) says they cannot participate until a physician clears them to play. However, Severin makes players go another step further.

“When a player is released from a physician, I make them go three days symptom-free, then another three days of progressive exercise before I will allow them to participate,” he says.

Referees issue penalties to make the game safer. Facemask, late hits, and clipping are just a few common penalties that are in place to help prevent injuries. Referees can also send players out of the game for things like open wounds or failing to wear a mouthgaurd.

Protective equipment can sometimes get in the way, and having to postpone practice because of the weather can be a hassle. But we have all heard of those cases of players being severely injured, or even dying from playing a sport. With today’s technology and advances in sports medicine, we must work together to have a safe environment for players. Safety must be our number one priority.

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