By Ken Reed
Unlike soccer, in which boys and girls — and men and women — play by virtually the same set of rules, lacrosse has traditionally had a different set of rules for males (contact allowed) and females (contact not allowed).
As such, female participants haven’t been required to wear helmets — like they do in the boys/mens game.
However, as concern over head and brain injuries has increased in the girls game, that is changing. Many high schools now strongly encourage, or require, girls lacrosse players to wear headgear.
Bill Pierce, the athletic director for the Corning-Painted Post school district in upstate New York, where the varsity and junior varsity girls’ lacrosse teams last season were required to wear headgear, said it wasn’t hard for him to make the decision.
“We put mouth guards on their teeth and have them wear goggles to protect their eyes,” said Pierce, citing two established equipment requirements in girls’ lacrosse.
“The most valuable commodity they have is their brain, so we were all in when it came to protecting the most important part of their body.”
Girls lacrosse has the fifth-highest rate of concussions in high school sports, following football, ice hockey, boys’ lacrosse and girls’ soccer.
As is the case in football, helmets can’t prevent all concussions. Helmets cover the skull but inside the skull the brain still flops around against the skull (which can lead to a concussion). Until someone invents a helmet for the brain inside of the skull, we will continue to have concussions in sports.
That said, headgear has been shown to lessen head trauma caused by ball-to-head and stick-to-head contact — neither of which is uncommon in girls lacrosse.
Three years ago, Dawn Comstock, an associate professor of epidemiology for the Pediatric Injury Prevention, Education and Research Program at the Colorado School of Public Health, published research that revealed that most concussions in girls’ lacrosse occurred when players were struck by the ball or a stick.
Stephanie Cooper, a former college lacrosse player who is currently Corning-Painted Post High School’s varsity coach, believed prior to this season that going to headgear would irreparably change the game and make it too much like the male version of the sport.
“I now see the benefits,” Cooper said, adding that her team incurred no head injuries last season. “If the rules are enforced, it doesn’t change the style of play or increase the physicality of the game.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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