COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Head injuries have been a major concern in sports, especially contact sports, but the Cardinal Newman football team has taken steps to keep their players safer.
The school's athletics department has bought state-of-the-art helmets to protect their players from their middle school teams up to their varsity program.
"From the sixth-grade, fifth-grade, middle school kids on up will have brand new, top of the line helmets," said Cardinals head coach Doug Dutton. "They'll have access to impact trackers so even the young kids will be able to monitor anything that might be of concern and also be able to look through what we're doing and see if there's way that we can fine-tune it to make it safer."
Dutton said the helmets, which costs around $600 to $700, are ranked with the highest five-star ranking by the STAR Virginia Tech rating system. They include specialized padding and a monitor to track impact during practices and games. That gives the players a little more peace of mind.
"We all know this sport is a rough sport and it's a lot of injuries going on with the head and the neck injuries and all that," said Cardinal Newman senior Zenas Murphy. "All this equipment just lets us know we're going out there as safe as possible with the top of the line and we can go out there and play this game safely."
The Cardinals aren't just looking at ways to minimize head injuries. They've also revamped their weight room to keep all of their student-athletes in the best shape possible.
"It's off the field as well," Dutton said We're doing a lot of strengthening things that will stabilize knees, strengthen the neck, which is shown to reduce the risk of concussions across the board in all sports."
Cardinal Newman opens regular season play on August 18 at Florence Christian.