On Thursday, April 21 in Indianapolis, more than 60 sporting goods industry executives from 33 sporting goods companies and organizations met with the leadership of SGMA, NCAA, and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) to discuss rules changes for college and high school sports. This was the fifth such meeting in as many years involving SGMA, its membership, and the leadership of the NCAA and NFHS.
“When changes to rules are considered in any sport, it usually impacts the equipment, footwear, and uniforms used by the participants in that particular sport,” said SGMA President Tom Cove. “At this meeting, SGMA member companies are given an opportunity to ask questions about any potential rule change and it's the right time to inform the governing bodies how long it will take to design, test, manufacture, and distribute the new items that must be produced to a new standard or code. By consulting with the companies that manufacture these items, we can avoid potential problems by ensuring that a rules change is not implemented before the necessary adjustment can be made at the manufacturing level.”
“This meeting is truly important because it allows us to establish and maintain a strong level of communication with SGMA and its member companies,” said NFHS Executive Director Bob Gardner. “This annual meeting lets sporting goods manufacturers know what our committees are thinking and planning to do. The dialog is beneficial to all parties involved. We are pleased with our strong relationship with SGMA and the growing response we are getting from its membership each year at this meeting.”
The sports where rules changes were discussed included baseball, basketball, field hockey, football, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, spirit, swimming & diving, track & field, volleyball, water polo, and wrestling. Those in attendance were given a list of all NFHS equipment, facilities, uniform and rules changes which took effect this school year (2010/2011) and which will go into effect in the 2011/12 and 2012/13 school years.The NCAA and the NFHS provided attendees with a list of all the Playing Rules Committees (NCAA) and Sport Rules Committees, the staff contacts, and meeting dates.
Companies/organizations represented at this meeting included adidas, Anderson Bat Company, ASA/USA Softball, Augusta Sportswear, Baden Sports, Boathouse Sports, Cascade Sports, Combat Sports Group, Cutters, Diamond Sports, Easton-Bell Sports, Evoshield, Gared Holdings, Jarden Team Sports, Hillerich & Bradsby, MacDavid, Mattingly Hitting Products, Metalwood Bat Company, Mikasa Sports, Nike, NSGA, NOCSAE, Rawlings Sporting Goods, Riddell, Russell Athletic, Schutt Sports, Shock Docter, Spalding, STX, SGMA, Under Armour, Warrior Lacrosse, and Wilson Sporting Goods.
“By attending this meeting each year, we learn about the next generation of rule changes for high school and college sports,” said Biju Mathew of Jarden Team Sports. “This allows us to make sure we have our inventory in order since we are always planning three to five years in advance.”
“We make this trip to Indianapolis so that we can stay up to date on the rules and regulations that govern high school and college sports,” said Ian Montgomery, director of research & development/engineering at Easton-Bell Sports. “By having a presence in the room, it gives our company a chance to provide input and ask questions, if necessary.”
The group also heard presentations from the NFHS's Gardner, SGMA's Cove, Ty Halpin (associate director of playing rules administration — NCAA), Mike Oliver (executive director — NOCSAE), Bob Colgate (assistant director – NFHS), Dr. David Klossner (director of health & safety – NCAA), and Dr. Dawn Comstock (associate professor – Ohio State University's Center for Injury Research & Policy/Nationwide Children's Hospital).
According to Gardner, the NFHS focuses on three issues when considering any kind of rule change for any sport: (1) Is it in the best interests of the sport? (2) Does it give an unfair advantage to either the offense or defense? (3) Does it impact the sound traditions of the game?
Cove said the audience a glimpse of SGMA's soon-to-be-released State of the Industry address. Cove stated that the sporting goods industry has strengthened in last 12-16 months, despite the challenges which have been presented by a number of issues such as the vagaries of the worldwide economy, federal and state legislation, sourcing and production concerns, regulations by sport governing bodies, and counterfeiting. He also noted that since 60% of SGMA member companies say they need more manufacturing capacity and will increase production by nearly 25%, chances are good that 2011 will be a strong year, as well.
Halpin said that “safety” remains the number one theme for any action taken by any of the NCAA's playing rules committees.
Oliver addressed the concussion issue – specifically as it relates to football helmets. Oliver said NOCSAE's standard on football helmets is the “most robust football helmet standard in the world.” He also proudly informed the audience that there is “100% compliance on its voluntary standards and that's because of the role of governing bodies.” He also admitted that when NOCSAE changes a standard, it's important to know (1) that the change will be effective and (2) that the change will not increase the chance of an injury in another area of the body. Oliver also pointed out that, despite criticism, today's “(football) helmets are preventing a tremendous number of concussions” and that the NOCSAE standard on football helmets exceeds the helmet standard for all other sports.
Bob Colgate also focused on the issue of concussions, specifically in high school sports. Colgate said the National Federation's website (www.nfhs.org) offers a free course on how to detect concussions, entitled Concussions In Sports: What You Need To Know. Since June of last year, more than 155,000 people around the country involved in high school athletics have taken advantage of this opportunity to become more knowledgeable about the topic. More than 70% of those who have taken the course are coaches. Colgate also noted that in the last year, 17 states have new laws dictating how high schools must deal with athletes who have had a concussion and what must be done before they return to the field of play.
Klossner revealed injury statistics on college athletics. He noted that this information reveals which sports have the most injuries and where those injuries are suffered, i.e. in practice or in competition. For instance, 58% of injuries in football take place in practice and the most injuries in track are due to overuse. The NCAA's data also notes which body parts are more prone to injuries in any given sport. By having access to this injury data, it “helps (the NCAA) monitor change over time.”
The presentation by Comstock focused on the NFHS Injury Surveillance System which she is spearheading from her office at Ohio State University. In her study, the goal is to collect data to monitor high school injury trends and patterns of injuries over time. Her goal with this annual study is to “provide data to help drive evidence-based discussions” by the various rules committees of the NFHS. Comstock has been analyzing high school injuries since 2005. From 2005-2010, there were 2.35 injuries to high school athletes per 1,000 athlete exposures. She stated that in some sports, more injuries occur in competition than in practice and vice versa. High school football has the most injuries while swimming and diving has the least number of injuries.