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Udall secures safety provisions for youth sports

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By The Staff

WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Tom Udall, a member of the Senate Appropriations and Commerce committees, announced that the president has signed into law as part of the “omnibus” appropriations measure several sports safety provisions that Udall has championed to help protect youth athletes from the dangers of sports-related traumatic brain injuries. Udall has led efforts in Congress to improve equipment safety standards and curb false advertising claims, focusing on ensuring parents, coaches and players have the information they need to make important decisions about how to prevent head injuries.
The concussion-related provisions instruct the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to vigilantly enforce rules against using deceptive safety claims to sell youth sports gear and dietary supplements. The bill also directs the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to report on voluntary industry standards and product labeling requirements for youth sports protective headgear and helmets, as well as CPSC staff involvement in developing sports equipment safety standards. The bill also encourages the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to investigate ways to develop new and better standards for testing sports equipment. These measures follow Udall’s persistent efforts to improve safety equipment standards and curb dangerous claims for so-called “anti-concussion” products that actually put young athletes at greater risk of injury.
Additionally, Udall secured a provision to advance the medical understanding of concussions and the effectiveness of policies designed to prevent such injuries in youth sports. The law now encourages the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor concussions nationwide and track their prevalence, especially among youth ages 5 to 21. This was recommended in an extensive National Academy of Sciences report, Sports-Related Concussions in Youth: Improving the Science, Changing the Culture, which Udall had requested.
“Sports-related concussions are serious health issue for kids and their families in New Mexico and across the country,” Udall said. “We want kids to be active and participate safely in all kinds of sports. Misleading sports equipment safety claims put young athletes at greater risk of brain injury, and that’s why I’ve pressed the Federal Trade Commission to investigate concussion prevention claims for products like football helmets, mouth guards and soccer headgear. The safety provisions we’ve secured in this bill will encourage the FTC and numerous other agencies to remain vigilant. Parents, coaches and players need accurate and comprehensive information to make important safety decisions on the field. When it comes to our children’s health, false product safety claims are simply unacceptable.”
Earlier this year, Udall and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) called on the FTC to investigate potentially misleading safety claims used to sell soccer headgear.
The FTC enforces federal consumer protection laws that prevent fraud, deception and unfair business practices. The senators asked that the FTC take action if the investigation findings reveal that makers of soccer headgear or other children’s sports safety equipment are engaged in false or deceptive advertising practices. The provisions Udall secured in the appropriations bill keep pressure on the FTC to act.
In 2012, the FTC warned nearly 20 sports equipment manufacturers that they might be making deceptive protection concussion claims, but the FTC’s actions thus far have not deterred companies from continuing to make similar claims. Udall introduced the Youth Sports Concussion Act of 2013 to allow the FTC to seek greater penalties in such cases, and also warned about the dangers of deceptive marketing campaigns at a hearing last summer.