WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – They may be youth football players, but the hard knocks come at any age.
Some Wichita coaches and parents say they are having to pay more than ever to make sure the contact does not become a long-term injury.
“It caught our attention for sure,” says Youth football parent Sol Synes.
The head coach on her son’s team, A.J. Bohannon, says each of his players are wearing the safest possible helmets, according to city rules.
“These kids are 11 to 12-years-old,” Bohannon says. “I do not want to see an 11-year-old kid walking around with a concussion.”
The price of safety, he says, is expensive.
“Every helmet is $230,” Bohannon says.
Parent Cherly Morrissey says she has had to pay more for her son’s helmet this year.
“Like $240, so far, that we have put in to it,” Morrissey says.
“This is like top of the line right now.
The Wichita Cowboys get new helmets about every two years, according to Bohannon. He says they are the kind approved by the Kansas State High School Activities Association, which is the standard for youth football in Wichita.
“We follow all of their safety protocols and standards for all the uniforms and the safety equipment,” says Troy Houtman, Director of Parks and Recreation.
Coaches say it is expensive to play by the rules. Bohannon says most of their equipment is funded by team fees and team fundraising efforts. He says the teams on the field compete for the same money during fundraising events. The cost each year, he says, gets higher.
“It takes about a thousand dollars to put a kid on the field,” Bohannon says.
The discussion on concussions, Coach Bohannon believes, is the reason for the rising price in helmets. It is a price he says he is always willing to pay.
“They are only going to play football for so long and they still have to live the rest of their lives,” Bohannon says.
Morrissey, while watching her son’s football practice, agrees.
“The parents need to be supportive and make sure their kids are safe,” says Morrissey.
City officials say they will be doing more spot checks before games to make sure all youth football players are wearing regulated helmets.