• Steve Schmidt - Drive Safe Missoula

Should chinstraps on football helmets be optional?

Super Bowl LVI is this Sunday and you will notice that all the football players, from each team, will have chinstraps on their helmets...and they will use them.


Did you just say "Thanks, Captain Obvious" or reference something about Sherlock not using the bathroom?

According to The NFL Rulebook: Article 3. MANDATORY EQUIPMENT, APPAREL. All players must wear...(Item 1. Helmet, Face Protectors) Helmet with all points of the chin strap (white only) fastened and face mash attached. (Rules...Schmules!)


The equipment violation for not properly wearing a chin strap could result in penalty and a 5-yard loss. (Only if they catch you...don't get caught...and if they do it's only 5-yards, who cares?)


Now I understand that chinstraps were a thing even before facemasks, but just because they've always been worn, should players still be wearing them today? It's old technology, isn't it?



I mean, just look at how close the chinstrap is to the players neck. That must be dangerous, right? Would you let your kid play full-contact tackle football, if their coach said that the kids don't need to wear the chinstraps.


Hopefully, you get that I'm being totally facetious. So, I can't actually imagine a single person arguing that the chinstraps are unsafe or that they should be optional. I also wouldn't imagine someone telling a story about an uncle who once got tackled while playing football and because he wasn't wearing his chinstrap...he survived. I'll talk about this more in a moment.


We all know that the chin strap is designed to keep the helmet on your head or you head in the helmet. The helmet being the equipment that is designed and purposely engendered to take an impact. It protect the player, as long as their head stays inside the helmet. It could be the best helmet the world has ever seen, but it can't protect a player if it's rolling across the field. In order for the helmet to work, it has to be fit and worn properly and that includes a chinstrap.


To finally get to the point, Drive Safe Missoula promotes the proper use of seatbelts and child safety seats. These are devices that are designed to keep you inside your vehicle that has been purposely engendered to protect the occupants as long as they stay inside the vehicle. Oh, and just as the pads inside the helmet work in conjunction with the facemask, and hard shell, a seatbelt is designed to work in conjunction to the airbags and the entire vehicle during a crash. Not using a seatbelt in a car thinking that the air bags will save you is just like not wearing a chinstrap thinking that the pads in the helmet is all you need. They are used together to give you the greatest opportunity to survive.




Okay, I said I would get back to the "Uncle" statement. Believe it or not, when it comes to seatbelts, I hear a version of this every single time I talk to people about the importance of wearing seatbelts. I predict it and may have to actually start keeping track. Sure, there might be some truth to the statement. They may have had an Uncle who was involved in a crash and that Uncle survived, and he wasn't wearing a seatbelt. However, there is no proof that the decision to not wear the seatbelt was the deciding factor in their survival.


There's a greater chance that we know of someone who was involved in a crash, who was actually wearing their seatbelt and they died anyway. Does that mean that we shouldn't wear them? Don't football players still get life-threatening injuries wearing properly fitted helmets and chinstraps?


Sometimes the forces that are experienced in a collision (on the field or on the roadway) are more than the body can handle despite the proper use of safety equipment.


So, is it okay for football players to not wear their chinstraps as long as they don't get caught? Imagine placing a $10,000 bet that your team would win the Super Bowl. You made this bet just before week one of the season., on a team to later discover that their star running back, center, and wide receivers decided they didn't want to wear their chinstrap? Every time they got caught the team would loose 5-yards and if they got caught a 2nd time, they were ejected from the game. Would you want your money back? Clearly, they wouldn't even make it to the playoffs and I bet you would be furious. I would be screaming at my television saying, "Follow the rules, you idiots!"




Hmmm, I wonder how insurance companies feel when a driver, who they are technically betting on, decides to not wear their seatbelt, despite it being a law (it's in the rulebook)? Should the insurance company get their money back? Should they be responsible for paying the hospital bill when they were injured? I wonder if more people would wear their seatbelt, if their insurance company came right out and said, "Look, if you get injured in a crash and you were not following the law and not wearing your seatbelt, you are on your own, buddy. Good luck. However, if you were obeying the law, wearing your seatbelt, and still got injured...don't worry, we've got you covered. I'm picturing people running to read their insurance policies.


When it's all said and done, most of what you see during the Super Bowl is ads related to driving sober and the traditional "Fans don't let fans drive drunk" type of thing.


This year I wanted to do something a bit different. You share the road with the people your mother warned you about. I must have heard the line, "It's not you I'm worried about, it's the other people." Your best defense against those other people (drunk drivers, distracted drivers, high drivers, and drivers who are drunk, distracted, and high) is wearing your seatbelt.


The chinstrap in football keeps your head in the game and your seatbelt keep you in the vehicle where you are safer and have more ability to control the situation.


Thank you for wearing your seatbelt, this Super Bowl Weekend and forever more.


Drive Safe Missoula



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