Although baseball is celebrated as America’s pastime, football is truly the nation’s favorite sport. Take these stats into consideration: Super Bowl XLIX was watched by 114.4 million viewers, the largest audience of all time. Of the largest stadiums in the world, 7 of the top 10 are college football stadiums, each seating over 100,000 fans. Last year, the NFL had an estimated annual revenue of $9.5 billion. Each Fall, we love to watch our favorite modern day gladiators put world class athleticism on show week after week. However, it’s no secret that the sport is dangerous. While big hits are exciting to watch on SportsCenter, concussions and brain injuries haunt players for the rest of their lives. The average lifespan of an NFL player is 55-60 years old. Compare that with 80, the life expectancy of the average American, and you realize there’s a serious problem. In order to combat this growing problem, Atlanta-based Impact Metrics wants to make the game safer by adding some data to the equation. We recently sat down with the company’s founder to learn more.
Founded by ex-player and Atlantan, Dexter McKinney, “Impact Metrics will focus on the development and design of a new set of shoulder pads that utilize sensors. These sensors will provide us with the ability to pin-point the exact location, where the most pressure and force are applied,” explains McKinney. “This in turn will aid our efforts in locating possible internal injuries sooner. In addition, the sensors will allow us to wirelessly transmit and transfer the recorded data to a neighboring hospital within a 5-10 mile radius. Our goal is relatively simple: convenience. Our mission is to take the guess work and hassle out of diagnosing internal injuries, which in turn, will have a significant decrease in the amount of time wasted with repetitious questions from first responders, intake nurses, and doctors.”
According to McKinney, the amount of time wasted when diagnosing and treating an injured player is larger than you might think. He estimates that anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes are wasted on average. “Logistically, it may take an ambulance 15-30 minutes (depending on traffic) to reach the injured player,” he says. “Upon arrival, the EMT will ask a series of questions to get a better understanding as to how severe the injury is, typically, before they move the player for transport. This process can take anywhere from 10-20 minutes. Now, the EMT must travel back to the closest hospital which in most cases is 5-8 miles away, all while navigating through traffic. That’s another 10-20 minutes. Finally, the player has reached the hospital where he/she will be asked another series of questions, by intake nurses, depending on the severity of the injury, which, in most cases will take a minimum of 10-15 minutes. All of this precious time has been wasted and the player hasn’t seen the doctor yet!”
Dexter has been around football all his life. “I have played pee-wee, middle school, high-school, college and semi-pro. I have seen just about every injury associated with football,” he says. “The idea came to me in a dream, literally woke me up out of my sleep, and I have not been able to shake it. I figure God is trying to tell me something and I will not be able to rest until it comes to life.”
While other companies have added sensors to the sport’s equipment, they have done it for fan purposes. Fans are able to track their favorite player’s stats: how many yards they ran, how fast they got there, how long it took for a 60 yard pass to reach the end zone, etc. “Impact Metrics will stand out because our focus will be getting the fastest aid possible to an injured player, not stats,” asserts McKinney.
Dexter’s startup is very young and he’s in need of help. If you’d like to assist Dexter in his mission to collect data on football injuries, reach out via email email@example.com.