Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/12/14
From Press Releases
The Florida High School Athletic Association’s decision to mandate the use of helmets beginning in the 2015 season has brought much reaction.
The mandate was made during a Board of Directors meeting in Gainesville. In a press release, the FHSAA said the decision was made as a precautionary measure against head injuries:
“US Lacrosse, which governs high school girls lacrosse nationally, does not require female high school lacrosse players to wear protective headgear although women are permitted to wear soft helmets. However, the Board continued its emphasis on the safety of student-athletes, mandating that beginning with the 2015 season, all female lacrosse players must wear helmets as a precautionary measure against head injuries.”
Florida is the first state to require helmets during play. Some teams – most notably Bullis School (MD) – have required their players to wear helmets, but US Lacrosse does not mandate helmets and has yet to provide a standard of equipment for use despite several months of study on this topic.
The FHSAA’s decision has been highly controversial, especially in social media outlets and websites denouncing the need for helmets in girls’ lacrosse. A petition was started on change.org.
US Lacrosse Vice-President of Games Operations Ann Kitt Carpenetti today issued comments on the vote by the FHSAA.
“US Lacrosse appreciates the FHSAA Board of Directors’ concern about athlete safety, but we don’t understand why they chose to disregard the information provided to them by the sport’s national governing body. Members of our staff were available at the FHSAA’s recent meeting to provide an in-person update on the headgear issue and to share information about what is being done to address this important player safety issue in hopes of avoiding the introduction of this short-sighted and vague mandate.
“Prevention of head injuries in both men’s and women’s lacrosse continues to be a priority of US Lacrosse. Led by the respected physicians and researchers who comprise our Sports Science and Safety Committee, 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. We believe that the standard will be approved this fall.
“It is simply irresponsible to enact rule mandates 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.”
US Lacrosse is encouraging coaches and athletic directors in Florida to contact FHSAA board members to overturn this week’s mandate. US Lacrosse considers any mandate for headgear before the ASTM’s performance standard is finalized to be premature. Additionally, having the FHSAA encourage all high school coaches to become at least Level 1 certified through US Lacrosse and requiring all schools to use two US Lacrosse certified officials per game will enhance player safety.