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ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL...... news?  For those of you who are sad that football season is over, here's a little football related news for you:

NFL Endorses Udall’s Youth Sports Safety Effort

Just before Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVII, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, welcomed the NFL’s endorsement of their forthcoming legislation aimed at protecting youth athletes from the dangers of sports-related traumatic brain injuries.

The Youth Sports Concussion Act will ensure that safety standards for sports equipment are up to date and informed by the latest science. The bill will also increase potential penalties for using false injury prevention claims to sell youth sports equipment. - Cibola Briefing, 2/4/13

Here's what Senators Tom Udall (D. NM) & Jay Rockefeller's (D. WV) legislation calls for:
The Youth Sports Concussion Act will:

Instruct the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to review the findings of a forthcoming National Academies of Science (NAS) report on sports-related concussions in youth;

Authorize the CPSC to make recommendations to manufacturers and, if necessary, promulgate new consumer rules for protective equipment based on the findings of the NAS report; and

Allow the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to impose civil penalties for using false claims to sell protective gear for sports. State attorneys general could also enforce such violations. -, 2/1/13

Udall's legislation came about after President Obama made a remark about the way the NCAA handles players who get hurt and suffer concussions:

I'm a big football fan, but I have to tell you if I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football. And I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence. In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won't have to examine our consciences quite as much.

I tend to be more worried about college players than NFL players in the sense that the NFL players have a union, they're grown men, they can make some of these decisions on their own, and most of them are well-compensated for the violence they do to their bodies. You read some of these stories about college players who undergo some of these same problems with concussions and so forth and then have nothing to fall back on. That's something that I'd like to see the NCAA think about. - The New Republic, 1/27/13

The NFL is lobbying for this legislation because the helmet-making industry has refused to address the safety of it's equipment for players:

That presidential play highlights an ongoing scrimmage on Capitol Hill between the helmet-making industry, which opposes federal regulations on the headgear, and interest groups who are pushing for them. The lobbying centers around a bill introduced by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., in the last Congress that pushed for stronger youth helmet standards to prevent concussions and a crackdown on false advertising by the industry. Udall's office told Sunlight he is planning to introduce similar legislation again and on Friday, announced that the National Football League is endorsing it.

The issue: There is currently no standard for preventing concussions. The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment a non-profit body, has been criticized for not yet establishing one.

Neither the committee nor athletic equipment-makers think the federal government should step in. The Consumers Union and the National Football League’s Players Association say it should. - Sunlight Foundation reporting Group, 2/1/13

The Centers for Disease Control has estimated that 1.6 to 3.8 million sports-related concussions occur each year.  Along with the President's comments, the death of Junior Seau has caused Capitol Hill to take action:

How the league deals with players’ head concussions — already the subject of much litigation — is also on Congress’s radar.
The issue has reemerged after one of football’s greats was found to have had a concussion-related disease. Junior Seau, a retired Pro Bowl linebacker, committed suicide last year and was diagnosed afterwards with CTE — a degenerative brain disease common among people with repeated head injuries. - The Hill, 2/3/13
Riddell, the biggest football helmet maker, spent $600,000 on political contributions to keep the NFL and the government off their backs about improving the quality of their equipment to better protect players and the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) has been pushing hard to stop legislation like Udall's from passing:
Sporting goods makers insist they too want to improve helmet safety but they strongly oppose lawmakers'  proposed means of achieving that goal: giving the Consumer Product Safety Commission authority to override industry standards if, after a nine-month review, it finds them lacking.  - Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group, 2/1/13
But the NFL has a much more powerful lobbying outfit in Washington, D.C.:
Along with its own in-house lobbyists, the NFL has a roster of outside firms that includes blue-chip shops Covington & Burling, Elmendorf | Ryan, Gephardt Government Affairs, the Glover Park Group and John Dudinsky & Associates.

The league spent more than $1.1 million on lobbying last year, according to disclosure records.

The NFL is also active on the fundraising circuit, contributing more than $800,000 to candidates and committees during the 2012 campaign through Gridiron-PAC, a political action committee. - The Hill, 2/3/13

Udall and Rockefeller each released statements regarding the NFL's endorsement:
"The NFL's endorsement is welcome news in our campaign to improve sports and concussion safety," said Udall. "It's important that we encourage our kids to be more physically active while ensuring their parents have all the facts and best gear to help them avoid being injured. I'd like to thank Commissioner Goodell for the NFL's support and efforts to protect young athletes across the nation and we look forward to introducing this bill with strong support soon." -, 2/1/13
"We can absolutely make it safer for athletes of all ages to enjoy the sports they love to play," said Rockefeller. "The science of sports-related concussions and their effects on children should be the motivation behind any equipment standards and for government action against manufacturers that make misleading claims about their sports equipment. Manipulating the good intentions of parents trying to protect their young athletes is unacceptable and our bill will end that practice. I'm glad the NFL is supporting our efforts to protect young athletes on the field." -, 2/1/13
I look forward to what will happen next with this proposed legislation but I thank Senators Udall and Rockefeller for making this a real issue that needs addressing.  

In other Tom Udall-related news, Udall is also pushing to help small businesses:

In his first bill of the 113th Congress, U.S. Senator Tom Udall is seeking to expand opportunities for small businesses to secure federal contracts, and make the reporting requirements for those awarded more transparent.

The Assuring Contracting Equity (ACE) Act of 2013, would raise the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) government-wide small business contracting level from 23 to 25 percent. It would also increase the contracting goal from five to ten percent for businesses owned by veterans, women, and economically disadvantaged individuals.

Udall’s bill would prohibit reporting practices that artificially inflate the appearance of contracting to minority-owned businesses. It would also require the SBA to disclose the percentage of contracts that are awarded to small businesses from all federal contracting dollars, and to consider past subcontracting compliance in award decisions. - Cibola Beacon, 2/5/13

The ACE has been endorsed by the National Association of Women Business Owners and the National Veteran-Owned Business Association.  If you would like to donate to Senator Udall's re-election campaign, please do so here:

Originally posted to pdc on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 01:02 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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