It seems as if football is under the microscope every year with new discoveries about the effects of concussions and the ever-changing rules about tackling and where a player can hit another player. This pressure mounts on football equipment manufacturers, the players and the families of young players, as parents weigh the risks and concerns of such a physical sport.
Some equipment manufacturers have become rather explicit with their warning labels, especially Schutt Sports, which has taken some flack for their blunt label that reads, “No helmet system can protect you from serious brain and/or neck injuries including paralysis or death. To avoid these risks, do not engage in the sport of football.”
Schutt Sports’ chief executive, Robert Erb, backs the label by saying, “The simplest thing we can do is remind people that the game has inherent risks. It’s an ethical, moral and legal issue. People need to know these things.”
The Legal Dilemma:
Manufacturers, like Schutt Sports, have succumbed to putting these labels on helmets because of rising scrutiny of equipment companies. With lawsuits mounted against companies, coaches and leagues, Schutt Sports and others decided it was better to tell the honest truth than to beat around the bush.
Riddell, the largest manufacturer of helmets, had this to say in regards to the situation— “We feel strongly that the information, education and warning materials that accompany Riddell helmets are clear, concise and comprehensive.”
These companies are telling their consumers that the game of football isn’t a cakewalk and shouldn’t be considered a low-contact sport. Instead, it should be considered seriously and the injuries surrounding the sport should be evaluated before a player decides to step on the field.
In Erb’s words, “This is not to provoke fear or controversy. It was to tell you to look both ways when you cross the street, not ‘don’t cross the street.’ ”
Basically, manufacturers are presenting the facts, however explicit they prefer, so they aren’t being questioned when lawsuits continue to mount.
Product Liability and Defective Products:
But when is the manufacturer responsible? While the manufacturer may walk away from lawsuits with explicit labels, they do not walk away when helmets are defective or manufactured with faulty parts. This is still grounds for a product liability lawsuit, and a lawsuit that could be tremendous if a kid gets seriously injured.
In such a case, personal injury lawyers need to get involved and families should seek the counsel of a lawyer. Manufacturers are not removed from defective products that they let leave their warehouses.
Product liability is another issue when the manufacturer disregards faulty products. But for now, manufacturers seem to be covered with their blunt labeling.