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Archive for June 25, 2017

June 25, 2017 — The helmet debate takes a new turn

The Associated Press has run a story about the advent of new helmets in girls’ high-school lacrosse.

The scenario in the lead paragraph of the story, however, is extremely misleading if outright irresponsible:

Erin Foster was running toward a ground ball at an indoor lacrosse game when she was pushed, sending her unprotected head into a wall.

The game where the injury occurred was not a high-school game, but a weekend rec league game which is not covered by National Federation rules.

Yet, the story was all about how players need protection, not whether helmets actually prevent concussions. Indeed, this story is one of the few that deliberately eliminates the fact that no helmet can prevent a concussion.

What is happening is that the vote two years ago, which was made in spite of the science that existed at the time and still exists today, is leading to a hard-shell helmet which is being imposed on Florida players next year.

The problem is that few journalists have bothered to mention the fact that Massachusetts went to mandatory headgear in the 1990s, which led to rough play and the inability of some players to get recruited because of the lack of stick skills on defense.

There has been little discussion about how the Federation’s rules on protecting players has affected their chances at getting recruited at the NCAA level. Look at field hockey, which has had about six or seven years of eyewear. The rule has had a particular effect on attacking players, who are now unafraid of carrying the ball into opposition territory without a defensive tackle popping the ball upward.

At the same time, however, the presence of foreign players on every Division I team and even now some D-II and D-III teams has kept some Americans off of college rosters.

Will this happen in lacrosse? Given the box-lacrosse skills of players like Selena Lasota, Kenzie Kent, and Danita Stroup, you get the feeling that those kinds of players are going to be the ones more sought.