As one of the world’s highest contact team sports, American Football has had a nasty history of concussions that don’t see its deadliest effects until the post-playing phase of careers but with a focus to maximise player lifetime welfare, six leading US Colleges have signed up to sportstech company HitIQ’s (ASX: HIQ) concussion analytics.
The signings come just in time for the upcoming College Football season which starts this weekend, as collegiate athletes play for their livelihoods in an attempt to attract the attention of NFL scouts and lucrative contacts as professional athletes.
Schools that will participate include Tulane, Tulsa, Georgia Tech, Tennessee, South Carolina and Brigham Young. All are Division I programs with highly recognised programs for producing professional football players.
By partnering with HitIQ, players will wear the sport tech company’s smart mouthguards which can collect impact collision data that offer insight to medical professionals about potential concussions.
“American football represents a large potential customer segment for HitIQ and this program is an important early step to advance our commercial ambitions in a key international elite market,” said HitIQ CEO, Mike Vegar.
“We look forward to working with our six outstanding university partners to deploy our concussion management technology. The data collected during the program will be value accretive by adding to our global head impact databank.”
The mouthguards are advertised with 98% accuracy in terms of impact classification where each customisable mouthguard collects data through 4 high resolution accelerometers within the equipment.
With more than 100,000 student football players across the 900 US college football programs, 120 of which are Division I, College Football represents a major market for HitIQ. Of those 100,000 only 260 will be drafted into the NFL which means planning for a post-College Football life is essential for 99% of student athletes whose plans can be shattered by the long-term effects on undiagnosed concussions.
Given the size of the US market for American Football, it presents as a larger addressable market to HitIQ which will seek to build on its Australian roots where it has a multi-year deal with the Australian Football League (AFL) as a cornerstone commercial customer. This will also see AFLW employ the technology in the 2022 season.
Amongst its major investors are former Essendon champions James Hird and Mark Harvey, North Melbourne legend Wayne Carey, and the Collingwood Football Club.
One of the most high profile cases of American Football concussions took place in 2017 when former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez had his brain scanned, post-mortem. The results indicated degenerative brain disease akin to a man in his 60s when he was just 27 years old, having been previously convicted of double homicide. He was posthumously diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) which impacts human behaviour.
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