Tuesday, November 26, 2019

When Helmet Safety Meets Capitalism

NOVEMBER 26, 2019 | written by Steve Ulrich
your must-read briefing on what's driving the day in NCAA Division III

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>> Happy TuesdayWe're taking the rest of the week off for the holiday. Best wishes from my family to yours for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. See you on Monday.

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>> Today's Word Count: 1,358. (just over 5 minutes). Brief, concise, smart.

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1.  When Helmet Safety Meets Capitalism

Sports Illustrated ran a story late last week about the growing football helmet industry. Through interviews with equipment insiders and medical outsiders, more questions are raised than answered. And what does this mean for your institution as helmet reconditioning season begins?

>> Situational Awareness: "SI spoke with 15 people from inside and outside the industry, ranging from helmet manufacturing CEOs to experts with backgrounds in TBIs (traumatic brain injuries), bioengineering and neuroscience. And based on that reporting, today's helmet industry, after a decade defined by outrage over the havoc football has been exposed to wreak on brains, can be summed up by two contradictory observations.
  • The first: There has never been more innovation, leading to advancements in helmets and related technologies, all of it aimed at enhancing player safety. That growth has been spurred by competitive forces, including new entrants into the market; by partnerships with top doctors and scientists in related fields; and by an influx of cash from organizations, including the NFL.
  • The second: There have never been more unproved, misleading claims about effectiveness in the marketing and selling of these same helmets.
>> The Big Picture: "The bulk of all helmets, across all age levels, are manufactured and sold by one of four major companies. Schutt (on one end of the spectrum, founded 101 years ago), Riddell, Xenith and Vicis (on the other end, founded less than a decade ago). The field has dwindled in recent years, mostly due to a shrinking pool of buyers and to concerns over liability, but also because of existing barriers to entry and economies of scale."

>> Between The Lines: The power brokers are equipment managers who generally decide which helmet a team will embrace, at any level. Such long-standing relationships position established helmet companies to sell bundled goods and services to teams, upping the scale of business. Such a package might include helmets and helmet reconditioning (a process in which used helmets are retested and recertified following each season), as well as other equipment, such as knee and shoulder pads. And if a company, like Vicis, isn't positioned to bring in all of those extras, there's no opportunity for a price break. Capitalism in a nutshell.

>> Be Smart: While science can verify the reduction of impact forces on a helmet, no scientific study has yet shown that a helmet can reduce impact forces on the brain contained within. Any suggestion otherwise, to use a phrase shared by three experts in the field, requires "creative marketing."

>> Worth Your Time

2.  A Softball Dynasty

We know that winter sports are just beginning ... but here's a look at an important spring sports story. One that you are probably not familiar with, yet, it shows how far we've come.

Did you know that the College of New Jersey may have had the greatest dynasty in the history of collegiate softball? From 1982-96, TCNJ (then known as Trenton State College) won six titles, finished second six more time and lost in the semifinals the other three appearances.

The story of its success is a look back at those who believed early on that women's sports mattered.

>> Situational Awareness: "There was a very strong feeling from my point of view and from the [College’s] Board [of Trustees] about establishing a firm position on Title IX and having equal opportunities for women as well as men in athletics. We’ve hung our hat on women’s athletics.” - Clayton Brower, former president, Trenton State

>> Reality Check: “It was great coaches who recruited great athletes, and again, the support of the institution to do the women’s programs the right way.” - Kevin McHugh, former athletic director

>> Reality Check II: Eastern Connecticut became TCNJ's top rival, winning five national championships in 10 years. But ECSU did not have early support from its administration. “Even when we had an enclosed field, we needed lights [which weren’t in the budget], so (head coach) Clyde (Washburne) worked with a local man from the telephone company to get the light poles donated, and he got someone from the electrical company to wire them for free. As players, we were charged with pulling the lines through the ditches to get them to the poles so that they could be wired.” - Cynthia Walz Washburne

3.  XC All-America

All-Americans for the 2019 NCAA Division III Cross Country season were named on Monday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
Athletes of member institutions who finished in the top-40 of their respective races this past weekend at the 2019 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships in Louisville, Kentucky, earned the distinction.

>> Complete List

>> Conference Call: NESCAC (13), Minnesota (8), Wisconsin (8), Southern California (7), UAA (7), Centennial (5), Liberty (5), American Rivers (4), Michigan (4), NEWMAC (4), CCIW (3), Ohio (3), SUNYAC (3), North Coast (2), Landmark (1), Middle Atlantic (1), Northwest (1), SCAC (1).

>> The Key Stat: 31 different women's teams and 28 men's teams had at least one All-American on its roster.


    Searching for talent for your athletic department? Need assistance with a departmental review or a strategic plan? Time to refresh your conference's policies and procedures? ASC is dedicated to small colleges and is committed to providing solutions for your concerns.

    Contact Kurt Patberg (kpatberg.asc@gmail.com), Kim Fierke (kim.fierke.asc@gmail.com) or Steve Ulrich (steveulrich.asc@gmail.com) to see how ASC can help your organization.

    4. Polls

    Ice Hockey (M) - USCHO
    1. Norwich (7-0)
    2. Hobart (6-1-1)
    3. UW-Eau Claire (6-0-1)
    4. Geneseo (6-1-1)
    5. Trinity (4-0)
    6. UW-Stevens Point (4-3-1)
    7. Salve Regina (7-0)
    8. Adrian (4-1-1)
    9. Oswego (4-2)
    10. Augsburg (6-2)
    11-15: U. of New England, Utica, MSOE, Williams, Curry.

    >> Hello: Williams, Curry
    >> Goodbye: St. Thomas, St. Norbert

    Ice Hockey (W) - USCHO

    1. Plattsburgh (7-0)
    2. Adrian (7-0)
    3. Norwich (7-1)
    4. Gustavus Adolphus (7-0)
    5. Elmira (4-1)
    6. UW-Eau Claire (6-1)
    7. UW-River Falls (5-1-1)
    8. Middlebury (3-0-1)
    9. Hamline (4-2-1)
    10. St. Thomas (5-1-2)

    Basketball (W) D3hoops.com
    1. Amherst (2-0)
    2. Tufts (4-0)
    3. Scranton (4-0)
    4. Bowdoin (4-0)
    5. Hope (6-0)
    6. St. Thomas MN (4-0)
    7. Mary Hardin-Baylor (2-1)
    8. Wartburg (3-1)
    9. DeSales (4-0)
    10. Transylvania (3-0)
    11-15: DePauw, George Fox, Whitman, Augsburg, UW-Platteville
    16-20: Wheaton IL, UW-La Crosse, Marymount, Messiah, Trinity TX
    21-25: Illinois Wesleyan, Baldwin Wallace, Chicago, Loras, Guilford

    >> Hello: UW-Platteville, Marymount, Trinity TX, Ill. Wesleyan, Baldwin Wallace, Loras, Guilford.
    >> Bye-Bye: Trine, UT-Dallas, Christopher Newport, UW-Oshkosh, Ithaca, Washington U., Emmanuel.

    Basketball (M) - D3hoops.com
    1. Swarthmore (4-0)
    2. Emory (4-0)
    3. Amherst (3-0)
    4. Wittenberg (2-0)
    5. Middlebury (5-0)
    6. Nichols (4-0)
    7. St. Thomas MN (4-1)
    8. Nebraska Wesleyan (5-1)
    9. North Central IL (1-1)
    10. Marietta (3-0)
    11-15: CNU, Randolph-Macon, UW-Oshkosh, Saint John's, Washington U.
    16-20: Wooster, Augustana, UW-Platteville, Guilford, Augsburg.
    21-25: Whitman, Johns Hopkins, Wabash, Whitworth, WPI.

    >> Greetings: UW-Platteville, Johns Hopkins, Whitworth.
    >> Adios: Texas-Dallas, Baldwin Wallace, St. John Fisher.
    >> Game to Watch (12/1): #17 Augustana at #15 Wash U.

    Golf (W) - WGCA
    1. Carnegie Mellon
    2. Redlands
    3. Washington-St. Louis
    4. George Fox
    5. Claremont-M-S
    6. Methodist
    7. Williams
    8. Pomona-Pitzer
    9. NYU
    10. Rhodes
    11-15: Bethel, St. Catherine, W&L, UW-Whitewater, Carleton.
    16-20: Illinois Wesleyan, Amherst, Centre, Middlebury, Oglethorpe.
    21-25: Denison, DePauw, Cal Lutheran, Saint Mary's IN, Gustavus.

    5.  Comings and Goings 

    6.  Play of the Day

    7.  1 Turkey Thing

    "Roasting a whole turkey is one of those essential holiday traditions that, despite being a staple of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, isn't something most cooks do more than once a year. While nobody should be expected to be an expert at something they only get to practice annually (though there are a few ways to rehearse for Turkey Day), the pressure is on the hosting cook to deliver on the signature protein come the fourth Thursday of November."

    Thanks to Food & Wine, we share with you the three biggest turkey mistakes a Butterball expert hears every Thanksgiving.
    • Enjoy your holiday!

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