Concussions usually top the list of the concerns parents have when their kids play football.
So we imagine those involved with the Kennewick Grid Kids Association were delighted when the group’s board decided to invest in new technology that tracks the impact of hits to their players.
It’s called the Cue Sport Sensor and fits under or to the side of the padding in the top of the football helmet. If a player is hit in the head, the small device can detect the G-force of the impact, the severity, the hit location and other information.
Coaches can monitor the results using an app on their phones, and take players off the field when necessary.
Kennewick will be the first youth program in Eastern Washington to use the special head sensors, and we are eager to see how well they work. The key, of course, will be using the device correctly so it is effective.
If it turns out the device works as intended and saves kids from getting hit too severely or too many times in the head, other football and sports programs in the community should consider using these sensors in the future.
Serious head injuries can be hidden. Last January, Tyler Hilinski, quarterback for Washington State University, died by suicide in his Pullman apartment, leaving family and friends stunned.
Several months later his parents revealed in an interview with the NBC “Today” show that an autopsy conducted on their 21-year-old son showed he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy. His father said Tyler had the brain of a 65-year-old, according to the medical examiner.
Stories like this might be why more parents are steering their kids away from playing football.
Jeff Boyus, president of the Kennewick Grid Kids Association, told the Tri-City Herald youth football numbers are down 17 percent overall and 50 percent for 7 and 8 year olds.
Boyus deserves credit for bringing the new head sensor technology to the Tri-City area.
When he got a call from Athlete Intelligence of Kirkland, he pursued getting the devices for his program. The organization paid $26,000 for 340 units. Fortunately, they had help from local companies Apollo and B & B Mechanical.
If another local youth football league had joined in, the deal could have been better.
High school teams with 80 players would spend about $6,400 a year, but if they co-opted with other teams, they could bring the price down considerably with a larger order.
In Western Washington, other schools including the University of Washington already use them for football and other sports programs.
The community has Boyus to thank for bringing the new device to the Tri-Cities.
Gear – like pads, helmets and shin guards – can be expensive but we wouldn’t expect kids to play sports without protection.
If these new devices help prevent severe head injuries, they should be part of the uniform as well.