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CFL 1st North American pro sports league to make mouthguards mandatory for players

Canadian Football League players will have the option of wearing protective soft-shell helmet covers known as Guardian caps during games this season, but mouthguards will be mandatory.

The two measures were among a host of health-and-safety initiatives announced by the league Wednesday.

The CFL mandated the use of Guardian caps last year during training camp and all contact practices during the regular season. Their use was required by all offensive and defensive linemen, running backs and linebackers, and Wednesday that was expanded to also include defensive backs and receivers.

Players wishing to use the caps during games will be permitted, following a directive set forth last month by the NFL. According to the CFL, the introduction of Guardian caps and other measures led to a 42 per cent decrease in training camp concussions.

But there will be no such choice regarding the use of mouthguards, which are now mandatory. That makes the CFL the first pro sports league in North America to do so.

Violations won't result in penalties being called during games. Instead, they'll be deemed as dress-code offences by the league afterwards and subject to fines.

CFL teams will also be permitted to use GPS tracking technology throughout 2024 (training camp, regular season and playoffs). The devices register real-time data on player movements — including speed, G-force, location, acceleration and deceleration — and assist with injury prevention, load management and rehabilitation monitoring.

The league will conduct professional development meetings with strength and conditioning staff and add a new injury spotter to its command centre this season. It will also aim to provide additional camera angles and video technology for the role.