Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/14/13
From Press Release and Staff Reports
US Lacrosse President and CEO Steve Stenersen has issued a statement in response to the proposed and controversial Maryland House of Delegates Bill 1123.
The bill, introduced last week by Dels. Dana Stein and Jon Cardin, would, if passed by the Maryland General Assembly, legislate that girls’ lacrosse players in the state wear protective headgear based on specifications set forth by a state task force.
The Delegates Bill 1123 would apply to youth, recreational programs and public middle and schools.
Stenersen’s comments are as follows:
“US Lacrosse appreciates the Delegates’ concern about athlete safety, but we don’t understand why they chose not to contact the sport’s Maryland-based national governing body, and the respected physicians and researchers who comprise our Sports Science and Safety Committee, to learn what is being done to address this important player safety issue before introducing short-sighted and confusing legislation.
“Prevention of head injuries in both men’s and women’s lacrosse continues to be a priority of US Lacrosse. We are actively engaged in numerous interventions focused on reducing the risk of head injury in both men’s and women’s lacrosse, and we have been recognized among the national sports medicine community for our collaboration and proactivity in this regard.
Additionally, US Lacrosse continues to fund and lead research to better understand the frequency and severity of head injury specific to both men’s and women’s lacrosse, and we have been working with ASTM International for more than a year to develop a consensus headgear standard for women’s lacrosse based on the results of that research and the importance of appropriately balancing player safety with game integrity.
“It is simply irresponsible to enact legislation requiring head protection in women’s lacrosse without a clear understanding of the mechanism of head injury in a version of the sport that is entirely different from its male counterpart, and without head protection designed and manufactured specifically to mitigate that injury mechanism. In both cases, US Lacrosse is providing prudent, focused leadership based on well-founded medical and research protocols.”
The issue of protective headgear has become a major topic in girls’ lacrosse. Last year Bullis School (MD) mandated that all its players had to wear headgear. Also, on Long Island, Shoreham-Wading River standout Alex Fehmel, a multiple state champion and Division I signee (Fairfield), has been wearing headgear for years and has helped thrust the issue deeper into the limelight.
A press release issued by the delegates’ joint offices said that “because US Lacrosse has no timeline for recommendations and no requirement for those recommendations to develop into actual rules, Stein and Cardin hope the legislation will expedite movement toward a safer playing environment.”
Two Baltimore County delegates have introduced a bill in the Maryland General Assembly that would require headgear to be worn during girls’ youth lacrosse practices and games. The bill defines youth lacrosse players as those who are under 19 years of age, and that the required headgear would have to comply with standards to be set forth by a state concussion task force established by the Board of Education.
House Bill 1123 was submitted on Feb. 8. It is slated to be heard by the House Ways and Means Committee on March 13 and must be approved by the committee before it moves to the House floor.
Cardin played lacrosse at Tufts University and co-sponsored a 2004 bill making lacrosse the official team sport of Maryland. He has said that the proposed legislation is intended to strengthen safety measures and to bring to light the question of protective gear in women’s lacrosse.
Delegates Cardin and Stein made a joint press release: “Because US Lacrosse has no timeline for recommendations and no requirement for those recommendations to develop into actual rules, Stein and Cardin hope the legislation will expedite movement towards a safer playing environment.”