The ZERO1 Youth helmet. (Vicis Photo)
Football is still America’s game in American high schools, drawing more than a million athletes each year. But concerns over the lasting effects of concussions have caused youth participation in the sport to dip in recent years.
Vicis, a Seattle startup, wants to help preserve the game for younger athletes with a high-tech helmet that recently ranked first in Virginia Tech’s inaugural youth football helmet safety ratings.
But many programs are finding it difficult to pay the $495 price tag, sparking questions of fairness: should the safest helmet only be available to those who can afford it?
Five Seattle-area high school football programs announced that they would be using the Vicis helmet earlier this month, but several are from the region’s wealthiest areas, such as Bellevue and Mercer Island, Wash.
Just down the street from Vicis’ production facility in Seattle, the Ballard Jr. Football program launched a crowdfunding campaign that aims to raise $50,000 to pay for the helmets, which are designed to mitigate the forces thought to cause concussions. Neighborhood news site MyBallard first reported the fundraising effort, which has taken in more than $8,000 so far.
“We’re definitely not in the best position to pay for [the helmets] or fundraise for them in our community,” said Andrew Muller, the Ballard program’s league president.
@DangeRussWilson #BallardJuniorKnights are fundraising for #VICIS helmets. These kids are the future of football. What better way to celebrate your Contract Renewal than to help Seattle youth football team?!!?