I read the NYT article this morning and got so mad about the absolute old white man nonsense being spouted by the Back on Track representative that it took me the entire day to be coherent about this.
When someone has made a commitment to a sport, it is reasonable for them to change other aspects of their life to suit that sport. Examples include waking up at 4:30 AM to go for a run before it’s hot, budgeting for all-weather clothing so that you can spend time outside in comfort, or adjusting your hairstyle to fit your helmet. (How many of us keep our hair a certain length because our helmets were fitted that way?)
Before someone has gotten to that point- when they are still exploring the sport and deciding if they have a curiosity, an interest, or a passion- it is not yet reasonable for them to adjust their lives around their participation. If a sport’s materials are difficult to access or unsuitable for that person without making such adjustments, that is a barrier for entry. Doesn’t this sport have enough of them?
This page, about fitting helmets for cyclists, speaks about fitting helmets on beaded or high-volume hairstyles and points out that in a class setting where you are trying to get someone set up to enjoy the sport, “A helmet for them to use now has to work with the hairstyle, not ignore it.” This goes particularly for young riders, who are at the mercy of their parents for a lot of their styling choices! I was interested to read the practical suggestion of locking down the helmet with a dial fit system. I’m not a materials scientist and I certainly don’t mean to downplay the undertaking of getting a new product through impact testing and to market, but I would have to think that a combination of adjustable padding (either multiple thicknesses like the Samshields or One-Ks or discretely adjustable individual pieces that could be stacked) and a dial fit could go a long way towards accommodating more voluminous hair.