Across the past few years, two health issues have cast a significant shadow over the prep football landscape: Heat-related deaths and escalating concussion numbers. Across the nation, a number of states have implemented programs aiming to address both issues, but some schools have stepped in to provide some common sense measures of their own.
Case in point: The Orange (Calif.) Lutheran High football team, which is using caps on top of the team's helmets to reduce the force of impact, hopefully helping to decrease concussions therein.
As you can see in the video above, the Orange football team has been using the soft caps made of gel. The practice was first noted by Los Angeles Times high school writer Eric Sondheimer and was captured in the video you see above.
The practice caps, which were donated by their maker (a company called Guardian), allow a full 100 players to pad their helmets and minimize the force of impact. They will only be used in practice for now, but some data has suggested as many as 90 percent of teenage football concussions occur in practice, making the gel caps a sizable step in the right preventative direction.
There are no measures to prove the helmet caps have been effective, but Orange Lutheran officials insist that any chance of decreasing the odds of concussions is a step in the right direction well worth taking.
"What we can try and do as a medical staff here at Orange Lutheran is reduce the amount of concussions," Orange Lutheran head athletic trainer Ryan Lisk said. "Obviously there's no way of telling if you in fact prevented a concussion, but what we're hoping is that we see the numbers from the past few years drop by using extra precautions."
Despite a lack of measurable success, Orange Lutheran players were quick to praise their new Guardian caps, which fit snugly over the entire football helmet.
"It's definitely made a difference," OLu offensive lineman Tim Schlueter said. "Being an offensive lineman I'm always hitting heads and I'm barely feeling it now."
If the helmets are helping prevent concussions— and there is absolutely no indication that they aren't — they should become a staple at high school practices in the future. There are no reasons not to use them short of cost, and if they can help keep kids safe there's little doubt that companies and charities would spring up to fund their production and spread.
After all, anything that can help keep America's teens safe while playing the game they love is a good thing, period.