Female athletes have come a long way to be taken more seriously in the sporting world, and we still have a long way to go. The debate of ‘boy sports vs. girl sports’ continues to affect the way women view themselves in sport, with the general consensus of today’s society being that women, and the ‘female-friendly’ version of sports are inferior to those of men. This has led to many female sports adopting rules that differ very slightly from the male version.
Women’s lacrosse, however, is so fiercely protective of the women’s version of the sport, and seems desperate to maintain its integrity at all costs – even if the costs are the lives of the athletes.
In women’s lacrosse, helmets are forbidden in the rulebook for all players except the goalie.
It comes as no surprise then, that, according to 2009 research, women’s lacrosse has one of the highest concussion rates of any women’s sport, even though it is labeled as a ‘non-contact sport’ by U.S. Lacrosse. Further, the rate of concussions in women’s and men’s lacrosse differs very slightly, with men’s lacrosse having only a 15% higher rate, despite being a traditional contact sport in which checking and other forms of body contact are allowed. With the current medical knowledge regarding the severity of even minor concussions, it is absolutely ridiculous that helmets are not even an option for women.
Lacrosse U.S. advocates better-trained coaches as opposed to implementing helmets – even though the majority of concussions in women’s lacrosse come from accidental stick-to-head contact, collisions, and falls, which have nothing to do with the skill of your coach. The concern is that, if helmets are added to the game, women’s lacrosse will become men’s lacrosse – a rough, physical game, as opposed to the daintier finesse-focused women’s game.
It’s important to be an advocate for your sport and its integrity. It’s important for women to have venues in which they can develop and play a game of their own. However, I don’t think there should be a change to several rules of women’s lacrosse – just one. I could go on and on about the dangers of concussions – I’ve seen several serious ones change the lives of some of my friends for the worse. It isn’t fair that women are being asked to put themselves at a serious, avoidable risk, all for the sake of not playing a “man’s game.” I don’t think helmets would ruin women’s lacrosse, nor would it mean that the femininity of the game is being removed. I think it would benefit the athletes, and allow more women to participate in the sport for a longer period of time.
For more information on this topic, ESPN has a report; the video is linked below: