NATA Issues Official Statement on Calling Crown of the Helmet Violations

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

DALLAS, August 13, 2013 – The National Athletic Trainers’ Association released today an official statement regarding the calling of crown of the helmet violations in an effort to ensure sports safety at every level of football participation and with the start of preseason games and practices soon underway. The statement recognizes the work of the NFL, NCAA and National Federation of State High School Associations, which have studied injury patterns and created rules related to top of the head contact.
“The current recommendations are critical to help prevent injury to the head, neck and spine,” says Jon Heck, MS, ATC, director of athletic operations, Richard Stockton College, “including concussion and catastrophic cervical spine injuries for both students and professional athletes. Unfortunately, the enforcement of these rules has been uneven and infrequent.”
According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, there were 34 catastrophic head or neck injuries and nine related fatalities from 2010-2012.
The new official statement urges game officials, coaches, administrators and others to do their part in ensuring penalties are assessed when violations of these rules occur and recommends that:

  • Players should understand a helmet protects the head from blunt trauma injury. It does not prevent concussion or protect the spine and should not be relied on for that purpose.
  •  The best way to keep players safe is for coaches to teach the rules, players to follow the rules and officials to enforce the rules.
  •  For the safety of tacklers, blockers and ball carriers, it is imperative that the rule is uniformly applied at all levels of play and that the use of the top of the head is always called a penalty.

“Putting these guidelines into action will help ensure a collective and collaborative team approach to sports safety across the football practice and game landscape,” adds Heck. “They must be taken seriously, implemented vigorously and adhered to at every level of play. It can be a matter of life and death or other possible catastrophic outcomes.”
The official statement was developed by NATA and is fully supported by the following organizations: Academy for Sports Dentistry; Advocates for Injured Athletes; American College Health Association; American College of Emergency Physicians; American Medical Society for Sports Medicine; American Osteopathic Academy for Sports Medicine; National Academy of Neuropsychology; Professional Football Athletic Trainers’ Society; and the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation.
For additional resource information, please view NATA’s position statement on head down contact and spearing, the association’s educational concussion video titled Heads Up or NCAA’s 2013 player safety video

About NATA: National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) – Health Care for Life & Sport
Athletic trainers are health care professionals who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and sport-related illnesses. They prevent and treat chronic musculoskeletal injuries from sports, physical and occupational activity, and provide immediate care for acute injuries. Athletic trainers offer a continuum of care that is unparalleled in health care. The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports 35,000 members of the athletic training profession.