Harlem School District in need of football helmets for upcoming season

Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 1:06 PM CDT
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MACHESNEY PARK, Ill. (WIFR) - High school football is right around the corner. But there’s a lack in one piece of equipment that many did not anticipate needing.

“Is this the first time you’ve had to deal with a shortage of helmets?”

“Yes. In all of my tenure, yes. Very first time.”

In less than two weeks, high school football returns. But some athletes in the Harlem School District may have to wait to strap on the helmets.

“It’s the seventh and eighth graders,” explained Harlem High School head coach Bob Moynihan. “We’ve got 50 on order. They were supposed to be here at the end of July. Their season starts in August and they’re not here yet. Now we’re being told mid-August.”

Harlem isn’t the only program having a hard time getting protective headgear in the state. The Illinois High School Football Coaches Association is keeping a list of schools in need. Supply chain issues may be playing a factor.

“It’s not necessarily the helmet, itself, it’s just some of the pieces they can’t get.,” said Moynihan. “If they can’t get those pieces, then they can’t finish the helmet.”

Just like players, helmets can get worn out. Manufacturers like Riddell say they are at full capacity for refurbishing.

“Each year, when they recondition the helmet, they sand them all down, to make sure there’s no cracks or anything in them and then they repaint them. They’re being tested each year.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, football helmets should be replaced no later than 10 years.

“We had like 28 that were rejected because of aging out. With that reconditioning, if they get to a certain age, they age out. You can’t use them anymore. Does that mean they’re bad helmets? No. We just can’t use them anymore.”

While time is running out before the start of the season, Moynihan is confident they’ll get what they need.

“We have more players this year than we’ve ever had in my whole time here. From the varsity through 7th grade, over 200 kids... So, no, there’s no way we’re going to turn kids away. We’re going to find helmets.”

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