Helmets are arguably the most important piece of equipment a player wears in football, but they’re getting harder and harder to come by, these days.
There’s currently a shortage of this key item needed to keep players safe on the field.
In Calgary, many playing for the St. Francis Browns will tell you the contact is their favorite part of the game.
“I definitely got some hard hits this year already,” said Dane Yuzdepski, a receiver for the northwest school’s team.
“It’s all part of the game. You’ve got to love it.”
But they’re faced with the same problem football teams across the continent have been left to try and tackle.
There are only a few manufacturers that make the helmets, and they say a shortage of labor and materials is making it tough to keep up with orders.
Also, when pandemic restrictions were lifted, there was a surge of demand as players got back on the field.
“Usually, we’ll receive our helmets in June, and this year we received them by the beginning of the season in August and we only received less than a quarter of the order that we had placed,” said Bill Monks with the Calgary Bantam Football Association.
And local teams are running out of time — or at least their helmets are.
Calgary football regulations stipulate helmets can only be used for two years before they’re returned to the manufacturer for inspection and repair.
Leagues continue to retire helmets after two years, but they’re not being replaced.
Right now, some local fall and spring leagues are sharing helmets since they play at different times of the year.
Sharing during a game, however, may not be feasible.
“I don’t think that it would be fair or safe for kids to be passing helmets back and forth,” said Monks.
“A big part of safety is fitting that helmet, unless you take the time to refit that helmet every series, that’s not going to be a way to play football.”
Manufacturers say they hope to catch up with the backlog by the end of next year.