NORTH LITTLE ROCK (KTHV) -- A nearly month-long THV11 investigation leads to changes at North Little Rock High School. They are pulling 19 of their football helmets from their inventory. This is in response to a Virginia Tech study that THV11 brought to the district's attention.
Athletic Director Gary Davis said, "Safety is a factor, and if we can improve our helmet status and have all four and five-star helmets and can afford it, that's exactly what we are going to do."
Researchers at Virginia Tech tested various makes and models of football helmets 120 times, at different heights and different directions. The amount of impact absorbed by each helmet was measured, which led to a five-star scale. The stars are based on the probability for a concussion. The lower ranked helmets are not recommended, and one and two star helmets show the highest risk.
THV11 sent open records requests to 27 high schools in central Arkansas asking for the makes and models of helmets being used. After spending several weeks reviewing the documents, we found that the majority of the high schools have three, four, and five-star helmets.
North Little Rock High School was the biggest concern for the study's researcher.
Davis said, "This study opened our eyes as far as helmet safety. We felt pretty good about our helmets prior to, but we are going to go back through and take a good look at all our helmets and shoulder pads to make sure we have as good of equipment as anybody's got out there."
Ridding of the 19 level-two helmets will mean North Little Rock High School will now have all four and five-star helmets. There are 96 five-star helmets and 16 four-star helmets in their inventory.
The North Little Rock district does have 15 level-one helmets on their 9th grade campus. However, 9th grade is considered junior high. This study didn't focus on those grades. The impact between junior high and high school helmets is much different. Still, Davis said those helmets will be thoroughly reviewed.
As for the National Operating Committee for Standards in Athletic Equipment, they disagree with Virginia Tech's study. They said there is no evidence to support the idea that one type of helmet will result in fewer concussions than another helmet.
"I think the study will hopefully create better testing and maybe some rating systems for schools to go by, parents to go by when they go to select a helmet for their son to play with," said Davis.
To check the rating of your child's helmet, see our database. If a school is not listed, check with your child's coach or athletic director for the make and model football helmet they use.
** Note: The database is updated to reflect North Little Rock High School's current helmet inventory.