Legislation would help ensure that safety standards for sports equipment, including football helmets, are based on the latest science and curb false advertising claims made by manufacturers to increase protective sports gear sales

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced legislation ahead of Super Bowl 50 aimed at protecting young athletes from the dangers of sports-related traumatic brain injuries. The Youth Sports Concussion Act would help ensure that safety standards for sports equipment, including football helmets, are based on the latest science and curb false advertising claims made by manufacturers to increase protective sports gear sales.

“One thing’s certain about Minnesotans – we love our sports. But whether it's football, hockey, or the many other sports we play and love, parents, coaches, and young athletes must be equipped with the facts and informed of the risks when making safety decisions,” Klobuchar said. “This bipartisan bill will protect our athletes and help make sure they can continue to compete on and off the field safely.”

“With Super Bowl 50 just days away, we want to raise awareness of this problem. Sports are an important way for our kids to stay active and bring communities together, but parents, players and coaches should be confident that they have all the facts they need to make important safety decisions,” Udall said. “Unfortunately, some companies appear to be taking advantage of rising concerns about concussions and marketing ‘safety’ products that do little to protect players. We need to crack down on misleading advertising and ensure that all our athletes can have fun and play smart.”

“Today we are sending children onto football fields unaware of the long-term dangers of concussions and head traumas. But we know that people as young as 18 — people who never played a down of professional or even college football — show evidence of CTE,” Blumenthal said. “Though the dangers of head injuries are real, the science around prevention is still developing. This legislation empowers the FTC to crack down on manufacturers of athletic equipment who use misleading safety claims to profit off parents’ fears. False advertising regarding a particular gear’s safety features puts children’s short and long-term health at risk. Our youngest athletes — our future sports heroes — deserve truthful and accurate information to make informed decisions so that the sports they play today can be sports they play for a lifetime.”

The lawmakers’ announcement comes just before Super Bowl 50, as doctors, players, researchers and others are talking about the need to protect players — especially young athletes — from experiencing debilitating head injuries. Sports are the second-leading cause of traumatic brain injuries for youth 15-24 years old, and athletes suffer up to 3.8 million concussions every year. An extensive National Academy of Sciences report found that there is a lack of scientific evidence that helmets and other protective devices designed for young athletes reduce concussion risk — yet some manufacturers continue to use false advertising claims that prevent athletes, parents and coaches from making informed safety decisions.

In 2012, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned nearly 20 sports equipment manufacturers that they might be making deceptive concussion prevention claims, but the FTC's actions thus far have not been an effective deterrent. The Youth Sports Concussion Act would empower the FTC to seek civil penalties in such cases. 

A companion bill in the House has been introduced by Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and Tom Rooney (R-FL).

Numerous sports, medical and consumer organizations have supported the Youth Sports Concussion Act, including:

American Academy of Neurology

American Academy of Pediatrics

Brain Injury Association of America

Brain Trauma Foundation

Cleveland Clinic

Consumer Federation of America

Consumers Union

Major League Baseball

Major League Baseball Players Association

Major League Soccer

Major League Soccer Players Union

National Association of State Head Injury Administrators

National Athletic Trainers' Association

National Basketball Association

National Collegiate Athletic Association

National Consumers League

National Federation of State High School Associations

National Football League

National Football League Players Association

National Hockey League

National Hockey League Players’ Association

National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association

National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment

Safe Kids Worldwide

United States Brain Injury Alliance

US Lacrosse

US Soccer Federation

USA Hockey