With The Last Dance wrapping up this week, sports enthusiasts are once again left trying to fill the sports gap in their lives. Despite a continued dearth of athletics activity, there are plenty of equipment suppliers doing good work off the field, transforming their businesses to help protect those on the frontlines against COVID-19 and their communities.
The leading Formula One team, Mercedes–AMG Petronas, worked with doctors to prototype continuous positive airway machines (CPAPs) that within ten days received regulatory approval. Several Formula One teams are similarly creating ventilators in the thousands.
Lacrosse and hockey mask manufacturers have transformed from protective sports gear manufacturers to making personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers. Bauer, which traditionally makes hockey skates, helmets, and face shields, is now producing medical face shields. Lacrosse equipment companies from across the country, including Pro Athletics in California and Cascade Maverik Lacrosse in New York, have similarly retrofitted their facilities to make face masks, scrubs, and sheets.
Footwear company, New Balance, has similarly pivoted to help address the massive shortage in face masks. As shoe production came to a halt in some factories in mid-March, they partnered with M.I.T. and quickly moved from a prototype to making 100,000 masks.
Not to be outdone by the land sport companies, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors has partnered with Rash’r to make face masks from recycled ocean plastic. They’re battling plastic pollution and the pandemic with one punch!
The safety of players and fans is also top of mind and sparking other forms of innovation and community-building. This week the NFL announced the ongoing protype testing of helmets that include face masks with surgical material. Professional sports leagues are also finding new ways to help fans show support for their home teams. Both the NHL and NFL are now selling team-branded face masks for fans, which may be required as athletes return to the fields and arenas.
With some time until professional, collegiate, and even recreational sports start back up, families have returned to age old favorites to pass their free time. Jigsaw puzzle makers and board game makers are struggling to keep up with the surging demand. Some of these board game companies are not only helping keep families and friends entertained, but they are contributing PPE as well. The West Georgia Cornhole company is crafting face shields for those on the frontlines, while keeping up with the spiking demand in cornhole. They went from making 200 corn hole boards a month to 200 sets a week, hiring a few more employees, and supporting workers at hospitals across Georgia.