07/09/2015 1:27 PM
The state that berthed 7on7 football is set to revolutionize the game by taking a dramatic step towards making it safer.
Texas-based PrimeTime Sports signed an exclusive partnership with Gamebreaker Helmets and will mandate that all participants in its summer circuit events wear the softshell product beginning in 2016.
At its recently completed Tournament of Champions in College Station, Texas the PrimeTime Sports group outfitted multiple teams with the product and the response further confirmed their belief that this was the right step to take.
“It really drove the discussion of player safety throughout the weekend,” Chief Operating Officer Brandon Hollmann said. “Being the leader in that category is a big deal to us. We want players, coaches, and families to know that we have their best interests in mind with this decision.
“We are excited to see where this takes PrimeTime Sports, as well as how it can influence player safety, not just in Texas but across the United States.”
PrimeTime Sports operated 31 tournaments this season with nearly 6,000 players participating between fourth grade and the Varsity level. It projects to have 40 events next year and figures to improve on its 134 teams that qualified for the Tournament of Champions.
The level of play was not impacted between those wearing the product and those not. College Station (TX) 9th grade team (pictured right) was one of the teams that wore the Gamebreaker product all weekend and it went on to win its division – the second largest at the event.
Gamebreaker founder Mike Juels said that the awareness for concussions and other traumatic head injuries has resulted in a boom for the industry but that people need to be aware of what product they choose to purchase.
His softshell helmet was awarded a BRAIN FIRST certification by a panel created by leading researchers at UCLA, University of Michigan, USC, University of Wisconsin, and University of North Carolina.
The BRAIN FIRST criteria measures the attenuation of impact – which is the reduction of head trauma during impact, spatial coverage, durability, exposure components, and functional retention systems.
“There are a lot of claims made by a lot of companies out there today but the bottom line is that we have the qualitative, evidence-based certification,” he said. “If you go to a 7on7 here in California there are more teams wearing our softshell than aren’t and being able to move into Texas will further show others that this is the next step in the evolution of the game without changing how it is played.
“7on7 isn’t going away – if anything it is growing – and while many focus on the physicality of ‘real football’ the fact is that head injuries are a risk anytime you play. The need for the softshell is obvious and once it becomes more mainstream it will help combat the negative attention being placed on the sport.”
Gamebreaker is not only the leader in the softshell market but it has continued to widen the gap with recent product announcements, including an exclusive partnership with D3O.
The D3O pairing will put patented technology into the softshell.
Its formula is based on non-Newtonian principles that allows the molecules in the helmet to be free-flowing but upon impact they lock together to absorb a greater amount of energy and reduce the force transmitted between the blow and the head.
It is a step in ensuring that the head cannot be used as a weapon as well as in helping to lessen the impact of any blows received.
“The D3O partnership takes our softshell helmets to another level – a level no one else can offer,” Juels said. “Honestly it is a level of protection that many thought previously impossible.
“It illustrates our commitment to being best-in-class as well as clearly illustrates that safety is our top priority.”
Robert Densmore, the PrimeTime Sports Director of Football, said that the discussion to mandate the Gamebreaker softshell was a quick one within the office.
“Internally, there was more than excitement, there was peace of mind,” he said. “Knowing that our players will be in the Gamebreaker reflects PrimeTime’s commitment to player safety.
“With all of the injuries that can be sustained playing football, head injuries are at the top of the list of concerns for operators and participants. Our goal at PrimeTime Sports is to provide a safe and competitive environment for every athlete involved. When we put kids into the Gamebreaker at the TOC, there were a lot of parents that came and asked questions; then leaving excited to know that we were making this something mandatory going forward.”
The product costs $74 retail (or $84 with a custom team logo) on the Gamebreaker website. The partnership with PrimeTime Sports comes at a discounted price, available to anyone that wants to purchase for $59 and available at THIS LINK.
The adjustable straps makes the Gamebreaker something that can grow with the players as well. The one-time purchase is viewed more of an investment, than other items regularly bought by families.
It is also recommended for any regular season practices when players are not in full pads — expanding the usage beyond the 7on7 season.
“Ideally this will become part of a ‘Spirit Pack’ for a lot of teams going forward,” Juels said. “How many t-shirts or pairs of shorts does a football player really need? They only need one softshell and it is much more valuable.
“We see parents paying for new cleats each season, for new receiver gloves twice a season, for compression sleeves and think that this is more practical than any of those glamour purchases because it will keep you safe.”
PrimeTime Sports will kick-off begin its 7on7 tournaments for next season in January with its Winter Invitational and then launch into its full slate of contests in March.
Densmore said that he believes that implementing Gamebreaker to the rules and regulations will not limit participation but encourage it.
“We have little concern about teams’ willingness to sign up,” he said. “The feedback we received at the Tournament of Champions from parents and coaches was overwhelmingly positive.
“I think people will be drawn to our events because there will be a level of comfort regarding of our commitment to player safety. The response was outstanding and we think this is something that will change the landscape of the game for the better.”