Alabama’s medical tent is an idea popping up all over college football
When Alabama played for the College Football Playoff title last season, its pop-up medical tent on the sideline was a matter of significant curiosity. There had never really been anything like it before in football, allowing an injured player to be examined privately without having to go back to the locker room.
The collapsible tent, which is attached to the base of a trainer’s table and then pulled over the top in a matter of seconds, was a fairly genius invention both in its practicality and design. And Jeff Allen, who conceived the project and debuted it last year as Alabama’s head football trainer and assistant athletics director for sports medicine, knew it would soon be in demand across football at all levels.
Along with two engineering students at Alabama who brought the idea to life, Allen has formed a company called Kinematic Sports to market and sell the “SidelinER” tent. Allen told USA TODAY Sports this week they’ve opened an office in Tuscaloosa and sold 45 tents to college football programs and another 10 to various customers including high schools and hospitals. According to the company’s Web site, a basic unit can be ordered for $5,000.
“It’s been amazing how this thing took off,” Allen said. “Even though I thought it was going to work, I’ll never forget the day I saw the prototype I was like, ‘Wow, this is going to work. I remember saying, once this thing get out there everybody is going to want one of these and that’s really the response that we’ve seen. We did not have to do a whole lot of marketing or advertising. It kind of took care of itself.”
Now Clemson has one, as does Ohio State, Louisville, Arkansas, Marshall, SMU, Troy, West Virginia, Northwestern, Ole Miss, Florida State and on and on and on. It probably won’t be long before nearly every FBS program has one, but it’s not simply a matter of trying to mimic Alabama.
Besides being easy to transport, the opportunity for a medical training staff to examine a player at a moment of distress and potential panic without 100,000 people peering in can be a valuable tool.
“It just makes so much sense in terms of protecting the privacy of the athlete, and the other thing I found medically is it changes the environment of trying to do an evaluation on an injured athlete without the distraction of the crowd,” Allen said. “I tell people the most critical time in evaluating is five-to-10 minutes after the injury, and to have that type of environment makes a difference. I notice a big difference in our athletes in there. They request it like, ‘let’s go.’ So it’s really been amazing.”
The success of this project could lead to more in the future. In June, Alabama’s board of trustees approved the Integrative Center for Athletic and Sport Technology (I-CAST), which connects athletics with people in engineering, kinesiology and sports medicine and will try to develop new technologies to benefit performance and injury recovery.
“It’s going to benefit our athletic department and the university,” Allen said. “It’s a great example of the collaboration that Alabama has between athletics and academics. It’s not the norm at a lot of places but we’re lucky here with the culture and climate the way it is.”
This article was selected for educational purposes only.
Jennifer M. Condaras
Deputy Commissioner, NCAA Relations & Administration
Colonial Athletic Association
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