Possible helmet rule for girls’ lacrosse ignites speculation

Libby May, Reporter

Helmets, whether they effectively prevent concussions or not, are mandated by US Lacrosse to be worn in boys’ lacrosse. Speculation over whether girls’ lacrosse players will have to sport the headgear occupies many girl lacrosse players’ minds.

Concussions caused by contact sports are serious problems that are on the rise, according to Head Case, a family-owned organization build to help protect young athletes from the risks of cumulative concussions. Increasing rapidly, these head impacts can result in long-term brain damage.

A study collected by this same company determined that 3,800,000 concussions were reported in 2012, double what was reported in 2002. Keep in mind, these were just the concussions reported.

Last year, during a boys’ lacrosse game against Towson High School, Sam Wanamaker (‘18) received a pass left-handed and was carrying the ball up-field when his opponent checked him in the head. The flag was thrown but the players were allowed to play on. Does having no legitimate penalty encourage checking to the head?

Boys are required to wear helmets and pads while playing to protect from checks to the body and head, therefore preventing concussions. So the question now is, will girls have to wear helmets? Will US Lacrosse mandate that all girls where them to protect female athletes from concussions?

After lots of thought, US Lacrosse decided that the use of headgear in women’s lacrosse is optional. This headgear standard was created to help reduce impact forces associated with stick and ball contact with the head.

Covering the entire head except for a hole in the back for a ponytail and on the side for ears, each helmet also has a strap made to clip under the neck, as seen on bike helmets. The headgear normally ranges from $100 to $150.

Because the state of Florida mandates that all female high school lacrosse players wear head gear, whether it be a concussion band or a helmet, many girls’ lacrosse players and coaches wonder whether helmets will become mandatory.

Stephanie Joyce (‘19), a member of the Hereford Varsity lacrosse team, argues that lacrosse helmets should not be required. She suggests that if helmets are worn, it will make defenders think that it is safe to hack at opponents’ heads because they are wearing helmets. But, Joyce notices that many boys that play lacrosse still get deprived of a season because of concussions even though they sport helmets.

“Being a defender, I would definitely not be as cautious to refrain from checking towards the head,” Joyce (‘19) said.

Likely, Kelsey Knight (‘20), a member of the Hereford Junior Varsity lacrosse team, says, “I do not like them. I understand that they’re for our protection, but I think they’re letting and encouraging us to be more aggressive.”

What seems to be the most popular negative opinion on these helmets regards their appearance. Isabella Peterson (‘19) believes that they are extremely unappealing.

“They don’t just seem uncomfortable, but they’re hideous, too,” Peterson said.

Not only is a negative attitude portrayed through the eyes of players, but Hereford Athletic Director Mike Kalisz does not agree with having helmets for girl lacrosse players either.

“There has been a lot of conversation [about the] potential for girls wearing helmets. Personally, I don’t like it. I think women’s lacrosse is a finesse game and highly-skilled. I think that will take away from the actual game,” Kalisz said.

Whether girls will be mandated by US Lacrosse to wear helmets is still up in the air. Do they prevent concussions? Are they necessary? Will it happen?