The New Era of Concussion Prevention in Football Comes at a Cost
By Veronica Sansone, Guest Writer, Class of 2024
Former players continue to file lawsuits against the NCAA seeking damages for concussion-related injuries caused by playing football.  In response to this industry-wide issue, Riddell, one of the top helmet manufacturers in the world, developed the new Axiom helmet as a way monitor head collisions of players.
The new helmet is personally fit to each athlete’s head by using Riddell's Verifyt scanning app to create a 3D image which allows each helmet to be customized with various combinations of interior pads. Additionally, the Axiom eliminates the traditional top bar on helmets and instead adds a visor, as well as flex pads. The removal of the top bar allows players to have eye protection and gives them a clearer view of the field. Both flex pads and the hard shell “work together with the internal liners and face protection system, [and are] designed to improve impact response.”
In addition, the most breakthrough feature of the Axiom helmet is its use of InSit Technology. InSit Technology allows coaches and trainers to view the data of what happens inside the helmet during impacts. The InSit Technology within the helmet connects to a database showing “quantity of team and individual head collisions increases or decreases on both a daily and weekly basis. It also includes charts that show the frequency of impact to specific locations, such as the back, front, left, right, or top of the head.”
A few schools across the country, including Ohio State and the University of Oklahoma, are testing the Axiom helmet this spring prior to the start of 2022 fall football season. In recent interviews, the teams explained their players are practicing well in the new helmets and plan to continue to use them during the regular season in the fall.
While Riddell’s new helmet provides a potential answer to concussion prevention, it comes at a large cost, ringing up at $750 per helmet. In addition, there is another cost required to use InSit Technology database. Right now, the NCAA requires a football program to have a minimum of 85 players on the roster, but a team can max its roster at 105 players. Therefore, a team with 85 rostered players all wearing the new Axiom helmet would roughly cost around $63,750, not including the subscription to the database. However, since programs are still testing out the new helmet, it is unknown whether the helmets will be provided to the full roster or if they will be provided only to select players.
The NCAA has long focused on creating equal opportunities for all athletes. Will this new technology, created to help eliminate head injuries within the football community, also create disparity between players and programs within the NCAA? How much will teams be willing and able to spend on this type of protective equipment and technology? Large D-I programs, like Ohio State and Oklahoma, are likely to have the funds to possibly afford the Axiom helmet. But what about smaller schools with limited budgets? A clear disparity of resources could limit players from smaller schools from accessing the potentially life-changing technology that the Axiom helmet provides to football players. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see if college programs will be able to afford to allow their athletes to benefit from the Axiom helmet in the fall and beyond.
 See Jordan Morey, Concussion complaints against NCAA continue to be filed in courts (October 27, 2021) https://www.theindianalawyer.com/articles/concussion-complaints-against-ncaa-continue-to-be-filed-in-courts  RIDDELL LAUNCHES AXIOM FOOTBALL HELMET PLATFORM DESIGNED WITH NEW PROTECTION AND PERFORMANCE TECHNOLOGIES https://news.riddell.com/info/releases/riddell-launches-axiom-football-helmet-platform-designed-with-new-protection-and-performance-technologies Id.  Andrew Lind, Ohio State Quarterback C.J. Stroud Testing Out New Helmet Technology During Spring Practice, Buckeyes Now FanNation, https://www.si.com/college/ohiostate/football/ohio-state-football-quarterback-cj-stroud-testing-out-new-helmet-technology-during-spring-practice-riddell-axiom  Id.  Riddell, supra. Id. Id.  Grayson Weir, Dillon Gabriel Makes Strong Oklahoma Debut In New Helmet That Looks Like It’s From The Future, (March 22, 2022) https://brobible.com/sports/article/dillon-gabriel-oklahoma-spring-practice-helmet/.  Lind, supra.  Weir, supra, and Lind, supra. See Id.  Andrew Cohen, Riddell's new football helmet equipped to track head impact data, Sports Business Journal, (January 6, 2022) https://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/Daily/Issues/2022/01/06/Technology/Riddell.aspx Id.  How Many Players are on a College Football Team?, https://langleyrams.com/how-many-players-on-a-college-football-team/  See Mike Meredith, Approaching its 50th anniversary, Title IX is just getting warmed up, (Mar 22, 2022) https://www.cbssports.com/womens-college-basketball/news/approaching-its-50th-anniversary-title-ix-is-just-getting-warmed-up/  See College Athletic Departments Financial Database, https://www.sportico.com/business/commerce/2021/college-sports-finances-database-intercollegiate-1234646029/  Id.