Sports form a central part of the life of many individuals beginning as children and continuing into college. Participating in sports can be fun, but it can also be dangerous without the proper safety equipment. The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) has been helping to make sports safer since 1970.
The NOCSAE is an independent and non-profit organization with one mission – enhancing athletic safety through scientific research and creating performance standards to reduce athletic injuries and death. From elementary schools to universities, educational institutions rely on NOCSAE to provide guidance for safety equipment, though a school’s adoption of those guidelines and recommendations are completely voluntary.
Around the world, an increasing number of student athletes have died suddenly while participating in the sports they love so well due to commotio cordis. The NOCSAE recently set the world’s first performance standards to protect against the condition, which is the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes. It’s just one example of how NOCSAE is working to make sports safer and more enjoyable.
Over the years, NOCSAE has narrowed its scope from general safety to helmets in all types of sports. That focus is particularly beneficial in light of what medical science now knows and understands about traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). A TBI can have short or long-term effects and symptoms may not appear until days or weeks later.
NOCSAE’s research and recommendations are critical for maintaining the health and safety of student athletes. When schools began implementing NOCSAE-approved helmets, head injury fatalities fell significantly in just five years. 1990 became the first season in which no deaths were reported since 1931 when statistics first began to be compiled.
The organization isn’t without its critics. One of the primary claims is NOCSAE’s guidelines are too inflexible, focusing only on preventing catastrophic injuries rather than concussions, ignoring the fact that TBIs can occur as an element of a concussion. The NOCSAE is focused on helmet safety to protect student athletes and safety should be the primary concern in any sport.