Top 10 Reasons to Cherish a Shortened Season

Ten reasons why we should love shortened seasons in sports.

Crowd CheeringOnce we get through the disappointment of the season not starting at its customary time of year, we have to admit that there are a few aspects of a shortened season that are intriguing and exciting.  Here are our top ten reasons to love shortened seasons in professional sports…

10.  So much to watch, so little time!  The frequency of the games has to be one of the greatest aspects of a shortened season.  Although there are fewer games than a full season, leagues pack in the games so that when the season does start, there is always something to watch.

9.  Fire, fire!  With fewer games on the schedule, those games naturally turn into fiery, spirited contests because every game is that much more important in the fight for playoff spots.  The fans can feel it, the players can feel it. There always seems to be an intensity rare to regular season games that shows up consistently in a shortened season.

8.  It’s all leveled out.  The playing field is leveled in a shortened season. This allows small stretches of good play to carry any team into the playoffs, even last year’s losers.  Great teams are not safe with every game being so important; lost points here and there can cost even the best teams a coveted playoff spot.  Conversely, more teams have a chance to surprise and don’t have to stay hot for as long as they would in a standard length season.

7.  In it until the end!  Opposed to a long season in which usually only a few teams are left in the fight for un-clinched playoff spots late, short seasons provide great drama with many teams remaining in the playoff hunt until the very end.  Most playoff teams will not know who they are destined to play in the first round of playoffs because nothing is settled until the frantic finish.

Hockey Fights6.  Hostile territories.  With short seasons, every game against ‘that other team’ not only has the usual ferocity of a rivalry, but gains even more significance because every loss you can give to your opponent, and every win your team earns counts all the more.  When neither team can afford to lose the game, rivalries are intensified, and this desperation can easily generate new rivalries too!

5.  The Gauntlet.  Watching players in the ‘gauntlet’, testing their athleticism, durability, and mental toughness is something that can bring fans closer to the players.  To see the determination and character of your favorite team in a shortened season brings new perspective and respect for professional athletes that dedicate themselves to the sport.

Sports Hug

4.  BFF’s.  No matter the sport, shortened seasons with games squeezed into a smaller timeframe force teammates to become close.  As teams play more often and go on the road together, we can see the evidence on the playing surface.  Have you ever noticed the camaraderie that shortened seasons bring?

3.  Cold Hard Cash Money. Fewer games means money saved on tickets not bought. Although we all love getting to the arena, spending less on tickets and getting to see more intense games when we do is definitely an oft forgotten benefit of short seasons.  Also, TV and streaming subscription services cost less than their standard prices in shortened seasons, putting money right back in your pocket.

2.  Running on empty?  Having played fewer games all year, the players have a lot left in the tank come playoff-time.  You want your team playing its best and most energetic games in the playoffs and not having to push through a grueling regular season can help teams accomplish just that.  Energy is abundant in the playoffs, which makes your glorious, anxiety-inducing run to the championship that much more exciting.

1.  Silver Lining.  Short seasons are a whole lot better than not having a season at all!  Blame who you want for issues preventing a full season on a particular year, but don’t we all sigh in relief once the announcement comes that there will at least be a shortened season?

As fans, we view the successes and failures of our teams emotionally and shortened seasons have the ability to heighten the intensity we feel during those successes and failures.  In the disappointment of a good team missing the mark or the shock of a mediocre team making a run, we might yell a little bit louder during a shortened season because of the reasons we love sports in the first place.

By Isaac Clark.

Isaac is a writer at Sports Unlimited.

Go As Your Favorite Sports Star This Halloween!

Grab the best NCAA, MLB, and NFL uniform sets for the best Halloween your kids have ever had! Dress up as your favorite sports star this year!

As a kid, the highlight of my year was always Halloween night. But there was no way, no how that I was leaving the house unless I was dressed as my favorite sports star! Since I grew up in Philadelphia in the 90’s, that meant I could be Randall Cunningham for a night, and to me, there was no greater honor.

This year, give your kids those same feelings of joy and distinction, as they run through the neighborhood in search of free candy. Get them a Halloween sports costume, and see their faces light up as they take on the roll of their favorite NFL, NCAA, MLB, or NHL all-star. Skip the same old scary ghost, NCAA Football Uniform Setsbored bouncing goblin, tired super hero, and trendy zombie costumes this year, and give them someone real to idolize, with a sweet youth uniform set from Sports Unlimited.

No matter your favorite team, we’ve got a full line of NCAA and NFL Youth Uniform Sets by Franklin, complete with a football helmet, chin strap, pants, and pads! The polyester mesh jersey comes in your team’s colors with an official logo, and even includes iron-on numbers to complete the look. Sized for 4-6 year olds, and 7-9 year olds, we have a Halloween football uniform set for every kid on the block.

Have a little baseball fan in the house? We offer a full array of MLB uniform sets by Franklin, each complete with a team baseball jersey, wristbands, and batting helmet. Now your little ones can emulate their favorite major league sluggers with pride this Halloween…even if they’re, say, a Pittsburgh Pirates fan!

NCAA Football Helmet and Jersey SetsHigh quality, and made to look just like the real thing, these kid’s uniform sets make great gifts, and even better Halloween costumes. And thankfully, they’ll last longer than my fleeting love for Cunningham and the Eagles of the early 90’s.

Check back soon for our collection of kid’s NHL hockey jersey sets!

By Brandon Porter.

Brandon is a product specialist at Sports Unlimited.

New Football Helmet Sensor Uses Smartphone App For Instant Impact Report

Check out the new Shockbox football helmet impact sensor, designed to sync to your Smartphone, to deliver instant impact and injury reports to parents, coaches, and trainers, after ever hit.

Other than getting the win, today, most football players and parents are focused on one thing; their safety and health on the field. From the NFL to Pop Warner, players, coaches, and parents are more aware than ever of the short and long-term affects of single or multiple concussions and other brain injuries, and with research coming out everyday, it’s not surprising that players are concerned for their futures and the future of their favorite game.

Using the Shockbox Smartphone AppOver anything, I’ve found that parents and players are hungry for information! How helmets are performing, how hard their players are getting hit, how many hits they’re taking during a game, how they hold up all season long. They want to see how the game is affecting their players and children, and these days, nothing is more important than accurate information. After all, the more informed parents and coaches are, the safer their players, and the better and more effective their decisions are on game-day.

So, during the game, what if it were possible for coaches, trainers, and parents to know exactly how many hits a player took, how hard he was hit, from what direction, and if he should be checked for injuries…all on their Smartphones, and instantly after every hit took place? That kind of data would be invaluable!

Shockbox Helmet Impact SensorEnter the Shockbox Football Helmet Impact Alert Sensor; one of the most advanced, practical, informative, and long-lasting helmet sensors in the game today! Designed to install directly into the football helmet, this helmet impact sensor is built with Bluetooth and LED technology, and not only records the energy, acceleration, direction, and force of an impact, but then sends that information to any synced mobile device or laptop, where it’s easily read and displayed for parents, coaches, and trainers, immediately after the hit! Brand new to the market, we at Sports Unlimited were incredibly impressed by this technology, and are proud to be one of the first distributors of this advancement in the game! Always focused on protecting players, we’re excited to see how Shockbox helmet sensors change football for the better.

Football Helmet Impact Sensor SystemAlready used by pro wide receiver Laurent Robinson, the Shockbox is a long and thin helmet impact sensor that attaches securely to the inside of the football helmet shell, and is compatible with almost every modern helmet from Riddell, Schutt, and Xenith, except the Riddell 360. The football helmet sensor comes with a free download of a specially designed Smartphone App for your Blackberry, iPhone, or Android, and quickly syncs to any device with the touch of a button. Once synced and installed, the Shockbox will record and report any impact over 50 g of acceleration, directly to your phone, up to 325 feet away.

Helmet Sensor iPhone AppThe App itself is incredibly user friendly, and utilizes data based on over 40,000 individual sets of tests over multiple helmet types, and over 18 months of live data, to give you the most accurate information possible. Its features let you monitor the health and progress of up to 128 players (more than enough for any coach or trainer). You can easily see how many hits a player has taken during a game, a season, or a career, how hard each hit was (on a color-coded scale from light to severe), and even record and update symptoms and treatment if injuries take place.

In addition to being an all-important hit-counter, the App also includes a mini SCAT 2 concussion assessment tool, which allows you to record player symptoms, track health, and determine the likelihood of a concussion. With this data, coaches and trainers can make more informed and faster decisions to take players out of the game, and treat them if necessary.

In today’s football world, information saves lives. So stay informed, and know when a hit is too hard, with the most advanced and innovative helmet sensor system out there today; the Shockbox Alert Sensor!

By Brandon Porter.

Brandon is a product specialist at Sports Unlimited.

Today’s Best Football Helmets: Riddell 360 vs. Schutt Vengeance

Compare the design and features of the Riddell 360 and Schutt Vengeance football helmets, to decide which is the best football helmet today!

A lot of people have been asking, lately, what is the best football helmet; the Riddell 360 or the Schutt Vengeance, and I’ve found it a really tough question to answer!

Both of these helmets are the absolute pinnacle of performance and protection, from two companies at the top of their game. Schutt and Riddell have spent decades dominating the football equipment industry, and each of their next-generation football helmets are the end result of vast experience, endless experimentation, advanced research and development, and countless hours of on-field testing and hit-analysis. They both not only protect the player better, but with the latest facemask and shell designs, create a more aggressive look than ever before. And while it’s hard to say which the best football helmet is, what I can say is that both are really impressive!

To give you a better idea of what each football helmet offers, and help you decide which the best football helmet is for you, we’ll delve deep into each new helmet, investigate their advanced features and technologies, and review their designs. So without further ado, I give you the Schutt Vengeance vs Riddell 360:

Riddell 360Riddell 360

In a Nut Shell:

After analyzing over 1.4 million helmet collisions with their HITS impact-severity recording devices, Riddell concluded that many of the impacts that result in concussions are caused by massive forces to the front of the head. So with major re-designs and improvements to the traditional helmet, the 360 utilizes new features and technologies to not only protect the entire head, but shifts the focus of protection to the front of the helmet and the jaw area.

Most Interesting New Features:

Flex Impact System: To improve frontal protection, Riddell’s new Flex Face Guard, combined with new facemask hinge clips, absorbs more impact force, reducing the shock felt by the player and the force transferred to his head.

Enhanced Facial Frame: Expanded to protect more of the front and jaw areas, Riddell improved the face frame of the polycarbonate shell, reducing impact force from side hits.

360 Hexagon LinerHexagonal Liner System: One of the most noticeable new features of the 360, the unique hexagonal helmet liner not only looks cool, but is made of energy-managing foam that absorbs more impact force, while improving and securing helmet fit, and delivering comfort and stability to the helmet. This liner is extended around the sides of the football helmet and the jaw areas, adding even more protection to the front of the head.

Occipital Lock: Placed in the back base of the helmet, this new feature cradles the back of the head, creating a more secure fit, and improving comfort and helmet stability. It also helps protect the head in the case of backward falls and tackles.

All-Points Quick Release Facemask System: You saw the Quick-Release face guard system in the Revo Speed. Now the 360 steps it up a notch, giving you quick-releases at each of the four facemask attachment points, letting you remove the new facemask faster and more easily than ever before.

Our Impressions:

This is a serious helmet for serious players. If you liked the Revo Speed, you are going to love the 360. It is definitely heavier than the Revo Speed, but the new liner and frontal protection, along with the lightweight facemask make up for the added weight. It delivers a stiffer, more secure fit inside as well, so you’ll feel almost indestructible. The increased shell offset and more aggressive shell detailing are really impressive too, and give you a great look on the field. Because of its price and weight, I’d suggest it to high school, college, and pro-level players, although it also comes in a lighter-weight youth 360 version, which is great for really serious younger, middle school players.

Schutt Vengeance

Schutt Vengeance Adult HelmetIn A Nut Shell:

Three words; Dual Compression TPU! Years of clinical and on-field research showed that football concussions can result from consistent low-impact collisions, as well as less-frequent high-impact, violent collisions. So Schutt went about improving the popular TPU cushioning system, found in the ION 4D and DNA, to protect the player from both levels of impact force. DCT adds a second layer of less-dense TPU, on top of the traditional stiff TPU cushioning, designed to protect you from both the typical, low-impact hits, and the infrequent hard, high-force collisions, changing helmet protection forever!

Most Interesting New Features:

Two-Layer TPU: An outer layer of stiffer, harder TPU cushioning, and an inner layer of softer, less-dense TPU, protects the player from every type of impact on the field. TPU never compresses, cannot be cracked, won’t break down, and resists heat, mold, mildew, and bacteria.

Vengeance Mechanical Cushioning AttachmentsMechanically Attached Padding: Different than any football helmet before it, the Vengeance TPU cushioning system is now attached directly to the helmet shell with screws instead of Velcro. These mechanical attachments stabilize the TPU cushioning and keep it exactly where it needs to be, even after hard hits.

Aggressive Mohawk Shell: With the largest shell offset of any Schutt football helmet, the Vengeance packs more Dual Compression TPU in, for enhanced protection without a significant weight or profile increase. The aggressive shell also features a new Flexural Resistant Shelf, which makes for a stronger, more impact-resistant back-of-the-head.

Vengeance FacemasksNew Vengeance Facemask: In a radical move, Schutt completely re-designed the traditional football facemask, creating one of the most innovative, high-performing, and aggressive-looking facemasks ever seen. Its larger offset, flexible design and arched brow take the place of the popular Energy Wedge system, and absorb even more impact force than before, while also providing an incredibly wide field of view. Also, by not using the energy wedges, Schutt lets you use existing DNA and XP XL facemasks on the Vengeance as well as the specially designed face guards.

Fit Liner System: High-impact foam inside the football helmet’s liner increases impact protection to the front and crown, helping to improve force-absorption in critical and vulnerable hitting areas.

Our Impressions:

The Vengeance is a bold, aggressive, and unique looking helmet, that delivers inside and out. The new two-layer TPU is incredibly cool and seems to really absorb a wide variety of impact forces, while the new liner and foam system cradle the head and feels secure and comfortable. The new facemask takes some getting used to, but it looks sick, definitely absorbs more force, and gives you crisp and wide field visibility. Overall, it’s a heavier helmet, but with the aggressive new look and vastly improved protection features, absolutely perfect for upper-end high school, college, and pro players.

There you have it, my review of the top two helmets in football today. I hope this has helped you gain a greater understanding of what these helmets have to offer, and maybe answered the question for you, which is the best football helmet.

By Brandon Porter.Brandon is a product specialist at Sports Unlimited.


How To Size a Football Helmet

How to size a football helmet, and get the most accurate head size measurements. A properly fitting helmet will protect your and reduce your risk of concussions better than a loose or poorly fitting helmet. Follow these simple steps to get the most accurate head measurement, for the highest-performing football helmets.

Football parents have enough to worry about, with the constant flow of news and statistic on concussions, the rising costs of good helmets and gear, and the changing rules in youth football. Thankfully though, one of the most influential things a parent can do to protect their child on the field is also one the easiest, and cheapest. Simply determining your child’s proper helmet size, and finding the football helmet that fits him best, instantly reduces his risk of concussion exponentially…and it only takes about 5 minutes!

A snug fitting helmet that cradles and supports the head has been proven to protect, and reduce the risk of concussions better than a poorly fitting one. That means even the most expensive, best youth football helmets on the market are next to useless unless they fit properly. It also means even a moderately priced helmet is going to protect your little guy if it’s fit well. So be sure to take a few minutes and get the most accurate head measurements, so when you go shopping for a new helmet (at Sports Unlimited of course), you’re getting the best fit, and most protection out of your helmet!

Check out our latest video, starring SU’s youth football star Zach Neff, to learn how to properly and accurately find your helmet size:

These simple steps will help you size a helmet, whether you’re looking for a Riddell, Schutt, Adams, Rawlings, or any other type of football helmet:

1. Find a friend or parent to help you measure
2. Use a flexible measuring tape
3. Find a spot about 1″ above the eyebrows (where the forehead of the helmet will rest)
4. Measure around the circumference of your head
5. Record the measurements in inches and centimeters
6. Consult the size chart of your favorite helmet to find the proper size helmet

Football Helmet PumpIf you buy a helmet with an adjustable air liner, you can use a specialized helmet pump to inflate the jaw pads, crown, and side of the head, to get the best, customized fit!

Once you can try on the helmet, make sure it fits comfortably on the head. Then, check to ensure there is no extra space between the temples and the helmet padding or liner, and no space between the jaw and the jaw pad. If this is the case, and it feel comfortable, you’ve got yourself a great fitting and protective helmet!

By Brandon Porter.Brandon is a product specialist at Sports Unlimited.

Pop Warner Limits Contact During Football Practice

New rulings in Pop Warner leagues restrict contact drills to 1/3 of practice time, ban full speed, head-on tackling and blocking drills at 3 yards, and forbid head-to-head impact. All of these rulings are designed to protect young players during practice, and prevent repetitive and high-force head impacts, which can cause concussions and brain injuries over time.

In an effort to spark changes in football from the bottom up, Pop Warner is introducing new rulings which will officially limit contact between players during practices. The first of their kind across a nationwide football league, these changes go into effect at the beginning of the 2012 season, and are three fold;

Pop Warner Football

  • Coaches must limit contact drills to no more than 1/3 of weekly practice time, or no more than 40 minutes during a single practice.
  • Full speed, head-on blocking and tackling drills, where players line up more than three yards apart, are officially restricted – angled hits are still acceptable.
  • All head-to-head contact is banned.

All designed to prevent brain injuries, concussion, and long-term health issues, Pop Warner is working with coaches to ensure each ruling is followed.

Pop Warner LogoAs the oldest and largest national youth football organization, Pop Warner has over 83 years experience training kids age 5 to 15, in the art of football. Leagues exist in 43 states, and stretch abroad to Germany, Russia, Japan, and Scotland. It’s also estimated that over 70% of all current NFL players started in Pop Warner programs. So needless to say, a change of this magnitude, in such a powerful and influential organization, was not made lightly, or without purpose.

“There are times when people and organizations have to evolve, and this is that time,” said neurosurgeon and chair of Pop Warner’s Medical Advisory Board, Dr. Julian Bailes. “For the future of the sport, we need to morph it now and take the unnecessary head contact out of the game.”

These rule changes seem to be the natural reaction to a slew of research, studies, and media exposure revolving around the long- and short-term effects of concussions in football players. Major impacts and minor repetitive hits caused by players of all ages and sizes, have been shown to have serious negative effects on the brain, especially those of developing children. Sub-concussive forces are even believed to cause degenerative brain disorders such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), the disease found in the brains of many former NFL, and even some teenage players. Research into the area has also found that most concussions, in youth and adults, occur during practice.

So is it surprising that organizations like Pop Warner are seeing a slight decrease in enrollment? Is it shocking that, with all of this information gracing the headlines, parents are becoming more and more reticent to drop their kids off at football practice?

Football DrillsDr. Bailes believes that “if parents were considering allowing their child to play football, this (rule change) should assure them.” But he and Pop Warner are also hopeful that these rule changes will trickle up, making the game safer for players over time. After all, if players are trained from an early age to rely on their hands and bodies, instead of leading with their heads in constant contact drills, they’ll take those skills into high school, and on to college. Some may even take them on into the NFL.

“We’re not trying to fundamentally change the game.” Bailes said of the rulings. “We’re trying to ensure its survival by reducing the potential for injury in practice.”

With more and more information surfacing on the long-term effects of concussions, the serious lawsuit brought by high profile players against the NFL, and in light of the recent suicide of former NFL linebacker Junior Seau, it seems that changes like these are becoming increasingly necessary, if our favorite sport is going to last.

By Brandon Porter.

Brandon is a product specialist at Sports Unlimited.

New Justin Tuck Facemask Revealed

New Justin Tuck Facemask Revealed! With five horizontal bars and 12 diagonal bars, the new facemask is a total beast!

New Justin Tuck FacemaskSo apparently, having the baddest looking facemask in football wasn’t enough for Justin Tuck. Last year, the New York Giants defensive end made headlines with his six horizontal bar facemask. The custom job was built to keep fingers out of his facemask, when he suspected opponents of attempting to get their hands inside and yank his helmet, after word of a neck injury got out. Some called it ridiculous…some called it amazing. Regardless, after Schutt designed them for the public, it became one of the best selling facemasks of the year!

Now, he’s taking the ridiculousness to a new level, and anyone who dares put their fingers anywhere near his facemask this season is going to be picking them up off the turf! Tuck’s new facemask reduces the horizontal bars to five, but the 12 diagonal bars he adds more than make up for the loss. These cross bars turn Tuck’s facemask into a gloried cheese grater, or more accurately, a face fortress from which there is no return!

I’m not sure if these will be available for purchase by the public, but as soon as they are, I’m getting one just to wear around the house! What do you think?

By Brandon Porter.Brandon is a product specialist at Sports Unlimited.

Should You Trust the Virginia Tech Football Helmet Ratings?

Explanation of the Virginia Tech STAR Rating for football helmets, and the benefits and objections to the study.

Concussions have always been a part of the game especially in football. But what was once referred to as simply “getting your bell rung,” has now become an incredibly serious health concern, leading to mental degeneration, persistent physical impairments, depression, and death. Concussions and Football helmets Among players, parents, and coaches, the growing fear of, and focus on concussions, their effects, and prevention have become priority number one, and for many, the first line of defense is the football helmet. Concussions are the result of a complicated event, with many variables, forces, and factors, ranging from the acceleration of the player to his genetics. Yet, at the end of the day, parents and players just want to find the best helmet to protect themselves from injuries. Unfortunately, consumers are really looking for a simple answer to a complex question.

Enter The STAR Rating System

After eight years of data collection, research, and experiments, in 2011, and again recently in 2012, Virginia Tech and their engineering department gave us an answer; the “STAR System” for rating the effectiveness of football helmets. Virginia Tech STAR helmet ratingSTAR, or the Summation of Tests for the Analysis of Risk, is a rating given to helmets, meant to describe their perceived effectiveness at reducing the risk of concussions. Each helmet is tested in an accredited lab, and using an algorithm developed by Stefan Dumma, lead engineer on the Virginia Tech rankings project, given a STAR value. According to Virginia Tech, this value is derived from 120 impacts on 3 new helmets, caused by dropping the helmet from a variety of heights, at four different positions, to simulate the range of helmet-to-helmet hits a player would experience on the field. After analyzing the results and data, the helmet is given a STAR rating, which attempts to define the number of concussions a player can expect to experience over the duration of one season, playing with that particular helmet.

2012 STAR Football Helmet Ratings

In 2012, Virginia Tech tested 15 adult large football helmet models using the STAR evaluation system. Helmets with higher STAR ratings provide a reduction in concussion risk, while those with lower ratings tend to provide less protection from concussions. Below are the published results of the 2012 STAR football helmet testing performed by Virginia Tech. Most of these helmets can be found at Sports Unlimited.  Please see the updated 2014 Virginia Tech Football Helmet Ratings.

5 Stars:
4 Stars:
3 Stars:
2 Stars:
1 Star:

Riddell 360

Rawlings Quantum Plus

Riddell Revolution Speed

Schutt Vengeance DCT*

Schutt ION 4D

Schutt DNA Pro +

Rawlings Impulse

Xenith X1

Riddell Revolution

Rawlings Quantum

Riddell Revolution IQ

Schutt AiR XP

Xenith X2

Schutt AiR Advantage

Riddell VSR4

AdamsA2000 Pro Elite


The Controversy Over Virginia Tech and STAR

Since it was first introduced into the industry in 2011, the Virginia Tech STAR rating for helmets has received both praise for informing players and parents of the effectiveness of certain helmets, and opposition from independent organizations like NOCSAE (the National Operation Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment) and manufacturers like Schutt and Xenith, accusing the study of dramatic limitations and misleading results. The controversy over the Virginia Tech football helmet study has grown heated in the past few weeks, following the publication of the 2012 results. Press releases and rebuttal statements from Schutt, NOCSAE, and engineers from Virginia Tech have cast the issue further into the public light, and have people questioning, at once, the validity of the STAR ratings, and the intentions of some of the most trusted manufacturers in the game today!

Objections to the Virginia Tech STAR Rating System

Opposition from Schutt, NOCSAE, and others center on the authority of the helmet rating system and Virginia Tech’s methodology in the lab. Since the testing only focuses on lateral acceleration impacts (direct helmet-to-helmet contact) and ignores rotational impacts (the glancing blows that twist the head and neck), many believe its results and data are severely limited. Virginia Tech football helmet test

“We believe the assumptions behind the study have been flawed from the start because it fails to acknowledge that current science has yet to pin down the actual injury mechanics that cause concussions.  The STAR rating system is limited in too many ways because it considers only linear force impacts and totally ignores many other factors that are involved in a concussive event.”

-Cortney Warmouth, Director of New Product Development, Schutt

Although respecting the tests and results as a leap forward in understanding the nature and prevention of concussions, NOCSAE and Schutt have both expressed concern that concussions are too complex an event to draw any strong conclusions by testing only one of many variables.

“NOCSAE does not recommend that parents and athletes form decisions on the safest and most effective equipment based on any single individual data point, rating, or measurement, including the Virginia Tech STAR football helmet rating system. Doing so may lead to inaccurate conclusions that one helmet brand or model has a measurably higher level of concussion protection than another for a particular athlete.”  

– Taken from NOCSAE press release

Schutt has taken their objections a step further, even though many of their helmets, such as the ION 4D and DNA Pro +, have received top STAR ratings in each test. Schutt’s objection to the Virginia Tech helmet study accuses it of prioritizing lower-velocity impacts over harder hits. In low speed impacts, softer helmet padding tends to perform better and absorb more shock, while at higher speeds, harder padding has been shown to protect players better. Typically, softer padded helmets are better at protecting younger players, who are generally not getting hit as hard as college or pro players. For instance, the Schutt 2012 AiR Standard II received a 5 STAR rating when tested by the same independent accredited lab, under the same conditions, and using the same algorithm used by Virginia Tech.

Schutt AiR Standard II 2012“While it passes the NOCSAE helmet standard, the 2012 AiR Standard II is an entry level helmet designed for younger players. The idea of putting such a helmet on a player at any high school, college or NFL team is absurd. The fact that it’s the best helmet in the STAR rating system should cause concern for anyone relying on the system for purchasing decisions.”  

– Robert Erb, President and CEO, Schutt Sports

In response to these accusations, the Virginia Tech team has admitted its limitations and explained that its STAR rating is merely meant as a research tool, not a buying guide. Their claim is that some information on the effectiveness of football helmets is better than nothing. Virginia Tech STAR Helmet RatingIn Virginia Tech’s helmet study methodology, the researchers directly describe the test’s limitations, admitting the complex, multi-faceted, and variable causes and nature of concussions. Admittedly, their numbers and rating system are simply based on trends and probabilities. While they also admit to only testing linear acceleration as well, the team explains that while all head impacts result in both linear and rotational accelerations, Virginia Tech engineers believe a correlation exists between the two forces. So, as they explore the one, they are also exploring the effects of the other. Obviously, this is a complicated issue, one based in science and sport, but also rooted in health and emotion. In our quest to provide the most well-rounded, up-to-date, and unbiased sporting goods information, we at Sports Unlimited have tried to present all of the facts and varying opinions on this developing issue. But to get the full picture, we need to hear from the people using this information and buying new helmets. So please, feel free to share your opinions and feelings on the Virginia Tech helmet ratings below! *Update: As it was not available for public purchase at the time, the Schutt Vengeance helmet was not tested in the VA Tech STAR Rating Study. However, using the same lab (Southern Impact Research Center in Rockford, TN) and publicly posted methods and algorithms as the VA Tech Study, Schutt independently tested the Vengeance, as well as others in its Varsity level helmet line. They found the Vengeance to score a STAR Value of 0.185. According to VA Tech’s publicly posted ratings, a 5-Star Helmet is rated between 0.200 – 0.299 STAR Value, while a 4-STAR helmet falls between 0.300 – 0.399 STAR Value. This would actually put the Vengeance above 5-STAR rated helmets. However, although their latest helmet is technically the highest rated, Schutt still believes the test to be inevitably flawed, and inaccurate of a helmet’s actual in-game performance and protection.

By Brandon Porter.Brandon is a product specialist at Sports Unlimited.

Nike Finally Reveals New NFL Jerseys

Nike unveils brand new NFL jerseys for all 32 franchises. All new Nike NFL jerseys now available at Sports Unlimited!

Nike NFL JerseysTuesday night, in the low lights of a Brooklyn film studio, and somewhere between the muddy fields of the NFL and sleek runways of Bravo, Nike finally unveiled its long-awaited, newly designed NFL jerseys. Sleek and modern, yet somehow comfortingly familiar, all 32 franchise jerseys have been re-imagined by the sporting goods giant for the 2012 season.

In a huge media display, starring top players from every team, Nike showed off the new look, feel, material, and performance of each jersey, demonstrating their sleek design, closer fit, innovative ventilation system, durable fabric, and enhanced stretch and movement.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was on hand, and explained that the Nike redesign combined tradition and innovation.

“You can put innovation into the uniform without changing the look, necessarily, about it.” Goodell said.

New Nike NFL UniformsLeaning more towards the “tradition” end of the spectrum, most franchises chose not to follow the trend of some college teams, like the Oregon Ducks or Maryland Terps, and left their classic colors and styles largely unchanged. Other teams, like the Seattle Seahawks, took a turn for the flashy, upgrading their look with bright neon and metallic linings. But all in all, every jersey got the full Nike treatment, for a cooler-than-ever look.

“Seattle has the hottest uniform right now,” New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas admitted. “So I’m a little jealous. But I still love my all black. I think it looks nice.”

After many years with Reebok, the NFL signed an exclusive deal with Nike in early 2012, to supply all 32 teams with new jerseys, belts, pants, socks, and gloves.

And now that they’ve been revealed, Sports Unlimited is happy to announce that we have a full shipment of Nike NFL jerseys in stock and ready to go! Available in youth sizes, our wide selection of jerseys from all your favorite teams and players will let you take your fandom into the next generation! Complete replicas of what your favorite player will wear on the field all season long, these new Nike NFL jerseys will be with you from the stands to your couch while you root for your team every Sunday.

NFL Jerseys

Available for purchase starting at 12 AM, Friday May 27th.

By Brandon Porter.

Brandon is a product specialist at Sports Unlimited.

Schutt Justin Tuck Facemask Available at SU

Schutt ION 4D Justin Tuck FacemaskBy now you’ve probably seen it, and thought to yourself, “Wow…since when did Justin Tuck start wearing a chain-link fence around his face?” But then it probably dawned on you that now, nobody’s fat fingers can get at him, making him virtually impervious to grabs, eye injuries, and neck torques on the line! And later, I’m sure you found yourself thinking, “You know what, that actually looks pretty sweet and intimidating! Where can I get one?” Well funny you should think that my friend, because we’ve got them right here at Sports Unlimited!

Justin Tuck Facemask
Schutt ION 4D Justin Tuck Facemask

Designed to fit his Schutt ION 4D football helmet, the strong carbon steel “Justin Tuck Custom Facemask” tweaks the traditional ROPO (Reinforced Oral Protection Only) facemask, delivering six horizontal bars across the face, just under the eyes, for maximum facial protection on the field. With this bar setup, there’s no space for other players to grab onto, keeping your eyes and face safe from pokes and gouges, and making it almost impossible for someone to twist your neck from your facemask. And bonus; it also looks incredibly awesome!

Energy Wedge Facemask
Schutt Energy Wedge Facemask Integration

Because it’s built for the Schutt ION 4D, the Justin Tuck facemask uses the popular energy wedge technology, integrating entirely into the helmet. With this specialized attachment, the facemask becomes a shock absorber; actually absorbing 15% more impact energy when you get hit. It also gives you an insanely wide field of vision, so even with the added bars, you get a great view of the field through the facemask.

Justin Tuck Facemask for Schutt DNA Helmet
Chris Canty wears Justin Tuck facemask on DNA Pro+

This sweet custom football facemask is also available for the Schutt DNA Pro + football helmet. Worn by New York Giants DT Chris Canty, the Schutt DNA ROPO “Justin Tuck” Custom Facemask packs the same aggressive look and protective six bar design in a facemask that fits the popular Schutt DNA line of helmets.

Everyone’s talking about it, and for good reason. So pick one up today and hit the grid iron with one of the baddest football facemasks in history!

By Brandon Porter.Brandon is a product specialist at Sports Unlimited.