US Lacrosse President and CEO Steve Stenersen today issued comments on proposed Maryland House of Delegates Bill 1123, which if passed by the Maryland General Assembly would legislate that girls lacrosse players in the state wear protective headgear as per specifications set forth by a state task force.
The bill, which was introduced by Dels. Dana Stein and Jon Cardin on Feb. 8, would mandate protective headgear for girls lacrosse programs. Specifically, the bill would target programs organized for the recreational athletic competition or instruction of girls who are under age 19. A spokesperson for Cardin clarified, noting that this would apply to youth recreational programs and public schools, including high schools.
A press release issued by the delegates' joint offices said that “because US Lacrosse has no timeline for recommendations and no requirement for those recommendations to develop into actual rules, Stein and Cardin hope the legislation will expedite movement toward a safer playing environment.”
“US Lacrosse appreciates the delegates’ concern about athlete safety, but we don’t understand why they chose not to contact the sport’s Maryland-based national governing body, and the respected physicians and researchers who comprise our Sports Science and Safety Committee, to learn what is being done to address this important player safety issue before introducing short-sighted and confusing legislation.
“Prevention of head injuries in both men’s and women’s lacrosse continues to be a priority of US Lacrosse. We are actively engaged in numerous interventions focused on reducing the risk of head injury in both men’s and women’s lacrosse, and we have been recognized among the national sports medicine community for our collaboration and proactivity in this regard. Additionally, US Lacrosse continues to fund and lead research to better understand the frequency and severity of head injury specific to both men’s and women’s lacrosse, and we have been working with ASTM International for more than a year to develop a consensus headgear standard for women’s lacrosse based on the results of that research and the importance of appropriately balancing player safety with game integrity.
“It is simply irresponsible to enact legislation requiring head protection in women’s lacrosse without a clear understanding of the mechanism of head injury in a version of the sport that is entirely different from its male counterpart, and without head protection designed and manufactured specifically to mitigate that injury mechanism. In both cases, US Lacrosse is providing prudent, focused leadership based on well-founded medical and research protocols.”
Inside Lacrosse contributed.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun