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Helmets needed in womens lacrosse?

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Helmets needed in womens lacrosse?
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Both men and women play lacrosse, but only the men wear helmets. YNN's Erin Clarke takes a look at the debate surrounding whether helmets should be required for female players.

NEW YORK -- When boys lacrosse players suit up for a game, they're pretty well protected.

"Your shoulder pads cover all everything and here. Your back obviously" said Jamesville-DeWitt H.S. sophomore lacrosse player, Dan Cochran.

Male players also wear a mouth guard and hard helmet to shield them from contact with the ball and sticks, but that isn't so for girls playing the same sport.

"The girls have protective eyewear," said Fayetteville-Manlius School District Athletic Director, Richard Roy.

The reasoning behind the difference is that girls lacrosse isn't considered a contact sport. There's no body checking as in the men's game and stick checking near the head is prohibited.

"They actually have a halo, an invisible halo around their head,” said Roy.

Doctors see something wrong with that.

"So the goggles are like this. She got hit in the side of the face with the ball on a shot, fractured her sinus," said Upstate University Hospital Sports Concussion Center Director, Brian Rieger.

According to U.S. Lacrosse, trends in sports-related concussions show girls lacrosse ranked behind football, men's lacrosse and girls soccer.

With girls lacrosse ranked third, behind two sports in which players wear helmets when it comes to rate of concussions. Is it time to reconsider helmets for girls?

Cascade Helmets makes head gear for lacrosse and hockey players. Its staff pays close attention to the issue of women's helmets in lacrosse and says there are concerns on both sides of the debate.

"Parents are certainly have a heightened concern about the safety of their daughters. A lot of the players want to make sure the integrity of the game is maintained, as well as, the coaches," said Cascade Sports Helmets Director of Sales and Marketing, Tim Ellsworth.

The company was at the forefront of designing wired eye protectors. The masks were mandated after a player hit by the ball went blind. Doctors argue more devastating accidents like that don't need to happen and a decision to put helmets on women should be a no brainer.

"Why couldn't you put some type of a helmet on that could reduce the risk?" said Rieger.

Back in 2010, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Safety and Research Committee voted down a motion to require girl lacrosse players to wear the same helmets that boys wear.

According to U.S. Lacrosse, girls lacrosse is a relatively safe sport compared to other sports where women do not wear helmets and the organization continues to review whether the current rules adequately address safety concerns.

For more information about the organization visit: www.uslacrosse.org.

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