The Florida High School Athletic Association announced a significant change to one sport and the possibility of a significant development in another last week.
Citing safety concerns as its primary reasoning, the FHSAA has decided to mandate that girls lacrosse players wear helmets, starting with the 2015 spring season. The decision is at odds with the policy of US Lacrosse, the governing body of the sport, which does not require female athletes to wear protective headgear.
In a statement, FHSAA spokesperson Corey Sobers said that although there were members from US Lacrosse present at the meeting where this was decided and that both sides were taken into account, it was the view of the organization’s board of directors that this was a necessary preventative measure.
“The Board does not want to wait until a catastrophic injury occurs to make this type of decision,” Sobers said. “There were representatives from US Lacrosse at the Board meeting and there has been data reviewed but the emphasis, above all, is on the safety of student-athletes and the Board felt that this step made sense.”
Sobers stated that the FHSAA has not decided upon what type of helmet will be required and that once it has, that information will be made public. Sobers said that although this is a significant change, the game of girls lacrosse in Florida will essentially remain the same.
“The FHSAA realizes that there are differences between the way the game is played between boys and girls lacrosse but there are no changes to the actual rules of girls lacrosse,” Sobers said. “It will be officiated the same way with the same rules and the lone difference is to offer protection to the head area that lessens impact if there is some type of collision (whether that be the ball, stick, body contact).”
The board for the FHSAA also decided to move forward in its openness towards a proposal by Paragon Marketing to have one of its teams participate in a national postseason bowl game in football, similar to the National High School Invitational in basketball.
According to the release, Florida’s highest ranked team nationally would compete in a televised game against an out-of-state opponent based on rankings and a selection committee. The statement said that Florida’s participation in such a game, which would likely air on the ESPN family of networks, is contingent upon Paragon’s securing of sponsorships and interest from other states.