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Sloane Henry

Mr. David Thacker

ENC 1101
20 November 2014

Floridas Ruling for Helmets Rattles Debate with US Lacrosse

Lacrosse is one of the nations fastest growing sports in America and it is safe
to say that Florida is one of the states to greatly aid in its fast growing popularity.
The sport of lacrosse is relatively new to the sunshine state and therefore has grown
tremendously in the past few years. I myself have seen the sport go from a club
sport to varsity sport in an incredibly short time span of four years. I have seen dirt
fields in the middle of no where turn into these amazing lacrosse complexes with
cement walls for the sole purpose of wall ball and lights to allow for those late night
practices. I have seen teams of 5 girls who struggle to recruit players turn into
teams of 25 girls that have to selectively host tryouts because too many girls
discovered interest in the sport. Lacrosse has definitely come a long way from
where it started, nation wide and especially here in the state of Florida and it would
be a shame to see it fall apart because of one controversial rule.
This past June, the Florida High School Athletic Associations (FHSAA) board of
directors voted in favor of requiring all high school girls lacrosse players to wear
helmets starting in the spring 2015 season. According to Paul Ohanian of Lax
Magazine, mandating this law was a controversial decision that has stirred up one
of the sports longest running debates. It is a controversial topic for reasons more
than just one. First of all, it is a nation wide US Lacrosse rule that all equipment

worn by the player must be US lacrosse approved in order for it to be worn.

Meaning the current goggles, mouth guards, and even the sticks used must be US
lacrosse approved and certified in order for them to be used in a game. So when it
comes to the helmets, they too must be approved by USL in order to be worn. But,
US lacrosse has yet to discover a helmet suitable enough to fit the safety
requirements and actually provide the right type of protection and that is why they
have waited to pass such a law until they can find the right helmet. As of now, USL
has given players the option of wearing a soft helmet while playing but again the
specificities on the safety of the helmet still remain unknown. According to Ohanian,
US Lacrosse has been working for the past three years with the American Society for
Testing and Materials on a sport specific headgear standard. Meaning US Lacrosse
has been working hard on finding a helmet that fits the protective qualifications
needed to benefit and protect the women lacrosse players. Jay Watts says it the best
in his statement published on US Lacrosse has been a part of an
effort to create a women's lacrosse-specific headgear standard for several years
now. The rules for girls lacrosse currently allow for soft headgear to be worn in a
game, but there are no standards in place that dictate what performance criteria
must be met by that headgear. The market is flush with companies trying to gain a
foothold in that space, even though none of them have a product that has been
studied specifically for girls lacrosse. However, despite everything just previously
stated about USL s effort to find the right helmet, the FHSAA went ahead and
mandated the law requiring the use of helmets even though they too could not
provide nor even identify a certain helmet for the players in the state of Florida to

actually wear. Thus bringing up the controversial question, what kind of helmet will
the players wear that provides the right protection and where can they buy one?
FHSAA uses the argument that the safety of the players came first when deciding to
pass this law and that it was better to get this law in action even though a helmet
hasnt quite yet been identified, than wait up to possibly two years for an actual
product that meets the US Lacrosse specifications to be discovered, according to
Alex Ozuna, an Assistant Director of Athletics and the lacrosse administrator for the
Florida High School Athletic Association.
Not only is there technically no certified helmet to wear, wearing any helmet in
general, whether it is a soft helmet or hard one, will change the whole game of
womens lacrosse. The whole point of womens lacrosse is not to be physical to the
point of harm, it is to be quick and have finesse and posses those characteristics of
accuracy and skill but also power and strength, all in a softer way. Womens lacrosse
was never meant to be as violent as mens lacrosse or even come close to being as
violent. The rough and tough and aggressive to the point of physical contact are all
aspects that make up mens lacrosse thus explaining the need for mens lacrosse
players to wear helmets and all sorts of pads for protection. But enforcing women to
wear helmets or in this case passing a law mandating helmets simply just enables
women to become more violent and aggressive in the game. Its going to make
people think its OK to be more aggressive. (Kai Milldenberger, a rising junior
midfielder). It should be noted that there is no helmet that can prevent a
concussion, putting helmets on female players will only make the game more
physical. This quote comes directly from the NCAA themselves and should

exemplify what these helmets could do to the future of womens lacrosse.

Florida is already a non-traditional area for lacrosse (Milldenberger) so therefore
it makes it difficult to get recruited to the college level. However despite the odds a
number of talented girls lacrosse players have come out of Florida with lacrosse
careers. With lacrosse being a relatively new sport to the state of Florida I would say
it could fall apart as quickly as it was built up. Florida is the only state in which a
rule requiring the use of helmets has been mandated. Therefore Florida is now
playing a whole new game of lacrosse from the rest of the country and from how it is
originally supposed to be played. Florida high school coaches are now being told by
college coaches that they dont want a player who has gotten used to playing
lacrosse with a helmet on because a simple thing like a helmet will change the way a
player plays and not in a good way. Players that are used to wearing helmets will
develop a more aggressive behavior on the field while the rest of the country will
not have that development.
Then the concern of money arises with respect to the helmets. Everything somehow
always comes back to money, whether it is a good thing or bad. This new helmet
rule will increase the cost of playing girls lacrosse in Florida. Lacrosse already is an
expensive sport, because of many reasons, the equipment such as the stick, goggles,
and cleats and then paying for field space and the officials, the fees adds up. Now
with the addition of one more piece of equipment, the helmet, the cost will
skyrocket even more. The helmets that the FHSAA are recently recommending are
soft helmets and word is that those helmets will run upwards of eighty dollars per
helmet. The cost will turn girls away from the sport, not because of lack of interest,

but because of the high cost to play. And there are not enough scholarships in the
world to fund everyone who is interested but cannot necessarily afford the sport to
play. Thus resulting in a decrease in girls playing and hindering the growth of the
sport even further.
Although the majority of people frown upon the idea of mandating helmets for girls
lacrosse because it is thought that they will change the game, there is always the
other side; those in favor of wearing helmets for girls lacrosse. And it is only fair
that both sides are addressed. It is a known fact that nothing will truly prevent a
concussion from occurring, but there is nothing anywhere that says people cant try.
The whole purpose of even wearing this new helmet would be as means of trying to
protect the players from injuries, specifically concussions. Because lacrosse is still
such a new sport to the state of Florida, lacrosse players skills levels are not as
perfected yet as those of the girls up north only because the girls in Florida have less
experience. With that being said Tina Smith, a high school girls lacrosse coach, states
that because of the lower experience level of Florida players "you have girls running
around out there who've never had a stick in their hands" as opposed to states
where the sport has a longer history, could mean helmets are a welcomed addition.
Based on that point alone the idea of helmets is a good idea because although girls
lacrosse is not meant to be a contact sport once girls are out on the field contact
does definitely occur whether it is intentional or not, it still manages to happen and
helmets are the only chance at attempting to decrease injury when that contact does
happen. Helmets were created with the sole purpose of preventing injuries for any
sport, so the fact that the FHSAA is taking the initiative to mandate such a law in

favor of helmets shows that they care and that they are making an effort to make the
sport safer and decrease the number of concussions. Also with this law getting
passed it raises awareness for adolescent safety, meaning it puts the idea in peoples
heads that incidents happen on the field that can not necessarily be prevented but
when the do happen people must be cognoscente on the ways to decrease incidents,
with helmets being number one.
However, everyone understands the good intentions behind why FHSAA would
mandate a mandatory helmet rule for its high school players but it is still not
understood why they would ever undermine and create different rules than the
sports national governing body, US Lacrosse. The idea of wearing a helmet for girls
lacrosse is created with the best intentions. However, if it cannot be addressed in
the proper manor then the game of lacrosse will change, as we know it. As of now
FHSAA has gone about the mandating of helmets law in the worst possible way even
though they had the best intentions of trying to keep the player safe. They went over
US Lacrosse and passed this law, even though USL was working on passing this law
nation wide in a few years when they actually had concrete support (an actual
helmet to provide and sell to the players). Passing this law only in Florida will hurt
the game of lacrosse and for those in Florida especially. It will create a division
between the game in Florida and the game everywhere else around the country and
until the FHSAA can see that they are the ones behind the division then lacrosse will
never be the same.

Process Memo
The magazine I am writing for is Lacrosse Magazine. I chose this magazine for my
feature article for many reasons but mainly because I find myself to be very
knowledgeable on the subject. I have played lacrosse since I was in the fifth grade
and all throughout high school. I know from experience how small the sport was
when it first was introduced in Florida because when I first picked up a stick there
wasnt even a team for my age group and I was literally running around on dirt
fields. So when I included the sentence I have seen dirt fields in the middle of no
where turn into these amazing lacrosse complexes with cement walls for the sole
purpose of wall ball and lights to allow for those late night practices. I have seen
teams of 5 girls who struggle to recruit players turn into teams of 25 girls that have
to selectively host tryouts because too many girls discovered interest in the sport it
was nothing but the truth. I felt it was important to include that sentence in my
feature article because it shows the readers exactly how new that sport is to Florida
and provides them with a little personal insight on how far the sport has come. I
watched and helped grow the game of womens lacrosse in my community and it is
amazing to see how much it has grown. My senior year was the first season we
created a Varsity lacrosse team and no longer was lacrosse a club sport. Lacrosse
was now an official sport in Hillsborough County, which leads me to believe why the
FHSAA thought they had a right to step in on the debate about the ruling of helmets.
The topic for my article is the newly passed law that mandates helmets for girls
lacrosse in the state of Florida starting in the spring 2015. In my article I included a
lot of different quotes from various people as means of evidence to support my

different claims on why mandating a helmet for girls lacrosse would be a mistake
unless US Lacrosse itself mandates one for the whole body of girls lacrosse
nationwide. These quotes provided good proof and along with each quote I of course
gave credibility to the source it came from. I also tried to use as much detail and
explanation when describing the different claims. I tried to include a numerous of
different arguments as a way to further support my claim and each one is clearly
presented within the article, which makes it easiest for the readers to read each
different one. However, the big thing that I included was in the second to last
paragraph. In this paragraph I discussed the complete opposite side of my claim. I
briefly covered the side that stated why helmets would be good for the sport of
lacrosse. I did this as a way to let my readers know that I understand where the
FHSAA comes from when they passed this law and that I understand the good
intentions they had for doing so. Overall, I feel that my article would fit in perfectly
in the binds of the Lacrosse Magazine and provide a wealth of information on this
certain and most recent topic if debate within the lacrosse community.