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Girls' Lacrosse Players Should Be Wearing Helmets

Whether kids want the protection or not, adults should insist on it.

I think it would be fairly accurate to assume that most of us over the age of 40 did not wear cycling helmets as kids. And for that matter, how many of you remember riding in the back of a station wagon or even the backseat of a car without a seatbelt?

Today most of us are fanatical in making both issues as natural an act for our children (and hopefully ourselves) as tying their $100 sneakers.

We evolve. Research leads to new technology. Someone figures out that a fiberglass mask will stop a hockey puck from smashing facial bones. Or that a seatbelt will stop us from being launched through the windshield of a car.

When Jacque Plante introduced the goalie mask into an NHL game for the first time more than 50 years ago, many questioned his dedication and bravery. Helmets were actually the last of the football pads to be accepted in 1888 and weren’t made mandatory in college until 1939 and then pro football in 1943.

Another example of this type of stubborn anti-protection behavior has occurred during the Tour de France and other professional cycling races over the years. I’m always baffled by the old school mentality of the younger riders who’ve protested such a commonsense rule as wearing a helmet while descending the French Alps at 50-plus mph.

So I guess the evolution of common sense can sometimes be rather slow when it comes to protecting athletes or athletes wanting to be protected. It’s akin to young adults not wearing seatbelts — heck, any adult for that matter.

I don’t understand any of it. Call me weak. Call me over-cautious. Call me whatever you want. If it reduces the odds of making an ambulance call on my behalf, I’ll take the protection.

This leads me to my research regarding girls' lacrosse injuries. I’ve been watching games over the past couple of weeks and talking to players (two of whom broke noses after being hit with the ball) as well as parents. And while I’ll admit that my exposure to the game is limited, it looked pretty obvious to me that there is a lot of incidental contact going on out there.

I understand that it’s a non-contact sport (whatever that means) but these aren’t the same girls as 20 or 30 years ago. Have you seen them lately? They are bigger, faster, and stronger. Many of them wouldn’t think twice if you asked them to take a shift on the field among the boys regardless of the major differences in the game itself. They are that driven. They are that competitive and fearless.

Girls' lacrosse is no joke!

Okay, so even if U.S. Lacrosse doesn’t have enough proof that helmets would lessen the occurrences of concussions, do they think they would protect the wearers from broken noses, gashes to the forehead, or split lips? How about using gloves to protect hands and fingers? Some of those body parts come in handy during school.

I don’t have the space here to comment on their reasoning for not insisting on more protection. But I do question much of the logic they present. And we can certainly discuss this further in the comments section below.

A recent study performed by George Mason University indicates that more research needs to be done before coming to any real conclusions. Conclusions before concussions, I guess.

And finally, an article from the Huffington Post where some girls are angered at the thought of being forced to wear helmets.

Quite frankly I don’t care what the kids (or young adults) want or don’t want to do when it comes to the issue of protecting themselves. Leave that to the adults who don’t want to see them seriously injured.

Am I being overly protective of children that aren’t even mine? I’d love to hear from players as well as parents and coaches on this subject.

Now over to the boys' side of the field: Can we please make it mandatory that the goalies wear leg protection? I’m told by some that it’s a matter of toughness — or proving their toughness. Again, this should not be left up to a kid’s discretion. Why in the world would you want to leave their young knees exposed to a hard rubber ball being launched toward them? Make it a rule across the board.

And one last thing I noticed at a multi-use field: the lacrosse lines were painted in black — black on grass? The opposing team especially found it difficult not to focus on the white or yellow lines that were several yards outside of the black ones.

There have got to be other color choices out there (pink or red maybe?). Hey, how about more white — and before the game the players are made aware of which lines are being used. If I’m missing something here, please enlighten me.

So there you have it. Straight from my desk at an undisclosed location wearing my helmet, gloves, and leg protection just in case a girls' LAX team or originator of the black lines finds me.

Ron Goralski September 16, 2012 at 01:32 AM
Does not matter how or why they occur. The fact is that they do! Plain and simple. They need protection because the game at the younger levels is not always played as written.
payattention September 24, 2012 at 04:12 PM
My daughter played Division I lacrosse as a goalie for 2 years. She sustained an average of 5 or more hits on the head each week with a helmet on and after a concussion this spring, she is having problems with memory (even paid her college tuition twice!), attention, pronouncing words, weakness, fatigue, etc. Her running speed is impaired to the point that she was unable to pass the running tests this year. Coaches should not allow players to repeatedly shoot at goalies heads and just stand there! In addition, Team Physicians should be present and actually be involved in the sports medicine programs to which they bear responsibility. When a helmet breaks, someone should be taking notice.
bethany smith October 15, 2012 at 08:36 AM
I have been playing women's lacrosse for the past 12 years and my first 1 or 2 years we were not even required to wear face masks and i noticed that once we were the majority of the girls were more willing to lead with their heads now that they had that protection on their face,which is the only thing that is actually required. I strongly believe that wearing helmets would make women's lacrosse alot more violent and more like the boys' game. Helmets are not a good idea at all, it is a no contact sport and if you even go into another player's personal bubble around their head there is a penalty or if you go to shoot when there is someone standing in front of you that is also a penalty. The rules are very strict on the ways you can hold your stick, check, craddle, shoot, defend, and do the face off so there is no need for extra protection. (also just so you know the different colored lines is because girls and guys lacrosse uses different lines....the guys field has a center line and dot and then a line on each side of the field and then a box and the crease....the girls field has a large center cirle, a restraining line on each side, the 12 meter arch and the 8meter arch, and the crease.....also on most fields the girls field is a different shape than the boys so the out of bounds lines are prob different too
Mark Kalina October 15, 2012 at 11:40 AM
The men and women's game are truly not the same game- in the way they are played. True, they have the same name and both use a Lacrosse stick and ball. Many of the game's similarities end there. Despite a women's game that should have no contact the practical reality is there will be some - even if only by accident. If the rules are properly adhered to and administered, the only effect the helmet should have is giving players an added level of protection. The helmets are available, why not use it?
Susan Batchilder April 15, 2014 at 08:38 AM
While I do not play women's field lacrosse, I have played Masters Box Lacrosse, and I do coach one of our provincial girls box lacrosse teams...helmets are a must....helmets are NOT weapons...helmets do NOT make players more aggressive. Aggressiveness is something that comes from within, not from wearing a helmet. Helmets protect from incidental stick-to-head and ball-to-head contact (and of course in box, board-to-head contact). And in our recreational Masters box lacrosse league, we wear helmet and gloves as we don't want an injury that would prevent a player from going to work the next morning. And our rules include: no stick-to-stick contact or body contact, and shooters must have a clear pathway to the net in order to shoot on the net. And our goalies wear full box lacrosse gear --- they are not stupid. If players start wearing helmets with full face masks at a young age...they will have no issue. All of my kids play hockey and box lacrosse (2 girls, 1 boy) and wear full gear. And to date (knock on wood) none have had a concussion or injury to their head or face. High sticking to the neck when being crossed-checked is another issue --- but currently the best option is good officiating. Players with smart parents will wear a helmet.

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