Sports, kids and bubble-wrap

I have never hidden my general approach to parenting as I never wanted to attract those who would find me annoying (or vice versa). Thankfully, I live in a Chicago neighborhood where parents have masterfully blended together 1970’s laissez faire child-rearing with a strong dose of Amy Chau “Tiger Mom.”

That is, we really want our kids to seek independence, solve most of their own problems, and develop discipline through the three A’s (arts, academics and athletics).

Intertwined throughout our days are fears, both real and imagined. We know far more than our parents did about the dangers of the world. Google has been both a blessing and a curse for today’s tech-savvy moms and dads.

It was fear that initially prompted my discussion with a dad at a basketball game several months ago. I was obsessing over concussions in sports. My pathological anxiety about traumatic brain injury (TBI) knew no limits. As luck would have it, the police father next to me had also served in the military and knew a thing or two about TBI. He immediately provided the name of a burgeoning sports company that has adapted proven military science and put it into protective equipment for the head and body.

Because I wasn’t ready to consciously acknowledge all the risks, I pushed the information to the back of my mind.

Until last week.

One of my very favorite kids on one of my son’s teams (I do not want to blemish any specific sport because the risks are everywhere) received a concussion. Not knowing how he was doing in the late evening hours, I scoured the internet researching “brain bleeds” and “long-term impact of head injury.”

My husband Joe made me turn off the computer.

Thankfully, the concussion was mild. But I could not dig up that sports company fast enough.

The name?


I immediately called them. Because that’s what crazy Tiger Moms with OCD and TBI phobias do.

I spoke with a representative and learned that the same military technology designed to disperse impact on the body in war was carefully adapted for sports and put into all of Unequal’s products. One of the company’s mottos is “Born in battle, built for sport.” One remarkable Pop Warner football pilot study has led to an even larger one set for the upcoming 2015-2016 season. Professional players across the NHL and NFL have begun using Unequal’s products. According to local representative Dan Tovrog, Illinois schools such as North Central College, Lake Forest College, Illinois College, Niles North High School, Niles West High School and Crete-Monee High School are either currently using Unequal or plan to do so beginning in the 2015 season.

The Unequal Gyro Football Helmet Insert. Unequal advised that they will take on the warranty for any helmet should the manufacturer refuse to honor it due to Unequal inserts.

There has been so much bad press relative to kids and sports lately that it is no wonder children are becoming more sedentary. Parents are scared to death. I know there have been many instances where I have been tempted to bubble-wrap my kids before they left to play Wiffle Ball.

Yet countless studies have proven how important sports are in developing a kid’s confidence, lifelong activity level and friendships. How could I take that all away?

No, I could not bubble-wrap my boys or keep them from playing sports.

But I could put them in the same patented woven fiber used in law enforcement and the military (adapted for sports).

My mind often goes right to that worst-case scenario. I fight the urge to helicopter parent all the time. I obsess. Then I obsess about obsessing.

Yet knowing I live in a world where I can now outfit my tee-baller like GI Joe going off to combat makes me happy.

Next up? I am investigating ways to install tracking devices into my kids’ arms before they hit puberty.

Wish me luck!

Or therapy. LOTS of therapy.

I have not been compensated by Unequal for this post and the opinions expressed are purely my own. If you or your school is interested in learning more about Unequal, its products, or group rates, please contact Dan Tovrog at 630.880.1051 or visit

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