FTC Takes Action to Protect Athletes from Deceptive Anti-Concussion Marketing


WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Sen. Tom Udall joined by Commerce Committee Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV Thursday commended the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for sending warning letters to 18 sports equipment manufacturers for the way they market their products’ ability to reduce the risk of concussions and for reaching a settlement with Brain-Pad, a mouth guard manufacturer.

In 2011, the Commerce Committee held a hearing on Brain-Pad and other sports equipment manufacturers which showed that many of these companies’ claims about reducing the risk of concussions were not supported by any scientific evidence.

“I am pleased the FTC is acting against misleading claims that put children at greater risk of brain injury,” Udall said. “It’s dangerous for equipment makers to take advantage of the rising awareness of sports concussions with advertising that doesn’t match the medical facts. I thank Chairman Leibowitz and the FTC for their hard work investigating this serious issue. Cases like this underscore the need for Congress to approve my legislation, the Children’s Sports Athletic Equipment Safety Act, that will increase the penalties for false claims that put youth at risk.”
“I am encouraged that the FTC has voted to approve its settlement with a sports equipment manufacturer that allegedly deceived consumers about its product’s ability to reduce the risk of concussions,” Rockefeller said. “This settlement bars the manufacturer from making any of these claims moving forward and will help ensure that athletes and coaches have the best science available to make informed decisions on preventing and treating concussions. The FTC is right to continue to protect athletes by sending warning letters to other sports equipment manufacturers likely engaged in marketing that is not supported by science.”
Last year, the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing to examine the marketing claims related to concussions that sports equipment manufacturers have made and the impact this marketing has on youth athletes, parents, and coaches.
Witnesses at the hearing testified that sports equipment manufacturers have repeatedly made claims that their equipment “prevent concussions” or “reduce the risk of concussions” without scientific evidence to prove them.
Witnesses also testified that concussion-related marketing has led to a public that misunderstands the limitations of sports equipment. The marketing claims of Brain-Pad were examined at the hearing.
For more information about the hearing, click here.

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