Thursday, February 17, 2011
Helmets in women's lacrosse
Camille Richardson has heard all the arguments, read all the comments, and sees the logic. But as a freshman midfielder for the Columbia women's lacrosse team who is fully aware of the dangers of head trauma, Richardson makes one thing clear: She has no interest in wearing a helmet, as the men must.
“Wearing a helmet,” Richardson said, “would just bring us closer to football and hockey.”
Although some safety advocates call for head protection in women’s lacrosse, almost everyone involved in the sport has said that its current ban on helmets for everyone but goaltenders is actually the safest approach. Hockey safety experts question if helmets foster more physical play. Football looks back and wonders whether big face masks encouraged a recklessness that can lead to long-term brain damage.
Now at its own crossroad, women’s lacrosse — with 250,000 playing nationwide — wants to take the road less battered. And so begins the second stage of sports’ continuing parry with head injuries — in which the best protection, many experts insist, is no protection at all.
“It’s hard to absolutely prove, but what we’ve seen is that behavior can change when athletes feel more protected, especially when it comes to the head and helmets,” said Dr. Margot Putukian, Princeton’s director of athletic medicine services and chairwoman of the U.S. Lacrosse safety committee. “They tend to put their bodies and heads in danger that they wouldn’t without the protection. And they aren’t as protected as they might think.”
Although boys’ lacrosse rules mandate helmets and face masks at all age levels, girls’ lacrosse, whose season at many schools begins this month, is drastically different. Amy Bokker, Stanford’s women’s coach, only half-jokingly says that it shouldn’t be called lacrosse at all.
To read the full story by Alan Schwartz of the New York Times, please click here http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/17/sports/17lacrosse.html?_r=1&ref=sports