By adopting a first-in-the-nation requirement for female high school lacrosse players to wear helmets beginning next season, the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) has taken a bold and decisive step to protect these young student-athletes from injuries that can have potentially life-changing consequences, according to FHSAA officials.
The FHSAA Board of Directors earlier this month adopted a new rule requiring that protective helmets be worn by girls while practicing for or competing in FHSAA-sanctioned activities. Although specific implementing policies have not yet been enacted, the new requirement will mandate what US Lacrosse currently allows: headgear to protect teenage girls from the hard impacts that can inadvertently occur in lacrosse, including blows to the head and lacerations to the face. FHSAA already requires helmets for boys’ lacrosse.
“For FHSAA, nothing – nothing – is more important than the safety of our student-athletes. Even though the rules of girls lacrosse are intended to keep it safe, it remains a highly competitive sport and we must do everything we can to make it as safe as possible for the girls proudly representing their schools,” said FHSAA Executive Director Dr. Roger Dearing.
The girls lacrosse policy is the latest move by FHSAA to protect the health and well -being of student-athletes. In the last two years, the association has adopted strict policies to protect student-athletes from the dangerous effects of concussions and performance-enhancing drugs, while also establishing new procedures relating to heat, hydration and potential cardiac problems. While girls lacrosse does not typically involve physical contact between the players, high-velocity impacts still occur involving the hard rubber balls, solid sticks or the ground.
Florida is showing leadership in this important area, and other states and the national lacrosse federation should follow FHSAA’s lead by requiring helmets for girls lacrosse, said Robert Sefcik, Executive Director of the Jacksonville Sports Medicine Program and a member of FHSAA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee.
“With a heightened awareness of sports-related concussions and sensitivity to the potential lasting effects of this significant health concern, this helmet requirement is a prudent decision by the FHSAA for the safety and health of our student-athletes,” Sefcik said.
The solid lacrosse ball weighs between 5 and 5.25 ounces and can travel at high speeds at the high school level. Even a helmet is no guarantee, but the chances of serious injury are reduced when a helmet is used.
US Lacrosse, which governs high school girls lacrosse nationally, does not require female high school lacrosse players to wear protective headgear, although they are permitted to wear soft helmets. The FHSAA Board’s action continues 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.
About the FHSAA
The Florida High School Athletic Association supervises and regulates interscholastic athletic programs for high school students at member public and private schools. The organization also recognizes and honors academic achievement among student‐athletes at almost 800 middle, junior and senior high schools statewide. Headquartered in Gainesville, it is the official governing body for interscholastic athletics in Florida.