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 common sense 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 Girl’s 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.

Girl’s 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 girl’s LAX team or originator of the black lines finds me.


Ron Goralski April 27, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Readers: You can find other comments at: http://farmington.patch.com/d/articles/girls-lacrosse-players-should-be-wearing-helmets-2946fc86
Ron Goralski May 08, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Hey Coach Tony on ESPN RADIO discussing this topic halfway into the show. I call in towards the end of the show. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GkMGlJqUJE&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Ron Goralski May 08, 2012 at 07:46 PM
FROM THE RJG INBOX: I'm glad to have come across your article as I've been doing some research on why girls aren't required to wear helmets in lacrosse. My 11-year old daughter just received a concussion two weeks during a game by getting hit in the forehead by the ball. SHe has been sidelined from all activity and still is getting daily headaches and is extremely tired. I'm very frustrated and am gathering all the information I can on this topic. Thanks for your article - appreciate it.
Liz Sanford June 04, 2012 at 12:11 PM
I appreciate the author's concern about head injuries in girl's lacrosse. Head injuries, any injuries, in kid's sports should be avoided at all costs, BUT helmets are NOT the answer. As a former player, high school and youth coach, and parent I have seen games played at all levels. If helmets were required in girl's lacrosse the game would fundamentally change. Girl's lacrosse is a game of skill and finesse where the contact is stick to stick and bodies don't crash into each other. A helmet would give a false sense of security which would lead to more aggressive body play, the "I'm safe so I can plow through the defenders" or "she's got a helmet I don't have to be careful with my check" attitude that would move the game toward the boy's style of play. I don't want to see the "Fastest Game on Two Feet" turned into girls wearing armor beating on each other with sticks. That's not the game I love!
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