“They may be beneficial.”
March 31, 2015 8:58 AM   Subscribe

Headgear Rule for Girls’ Lacrosse Ignites Outcry [New York Times]
Worried about the risk of serious head injuries in a sport where the players wield reinforced sticks and rifle shots with a hard, unyielding ball, Florida last month became the first state to require high school girls’ lacrosse teams to wear protective headgear.
posted by Fizz (79 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ann Carpenetti, vice president of lacrosse operations at US Lacrosse, the sport’s national governing body, called Florida’s decision “irresponsible” and said the headgear decision could make the game more hazardous because it might embolden players to be more aggressive.

I had no idea that girl's lacrosse was so ladylike.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:10 AM on March 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


I assume FHSAA board members are somehow related through either financial or familial ties to the manufacturers of these $70 foam headbands.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:22 AM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


I had no idea that girl's lacrosse was so ladylike.

The girl's field hockey team at my high school was a pretty brutal situation. There were many broken noses.
posted by thivaia at 9:30 AM on March 31, 2015


Florida is one of those states that churns out so many bad ideas with such amazing consistency that to not assume this is also a bad idea would be irresponsible.
posted by bleep at 9:40 AM on March 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


Um, why don't they just wear helmets, like men's lacrosse?
posted by leotrotsky at 9:42 AM on March 31, 2015 [8 favorites]


Because they'd have to put their hair up. Actually, with as much hair as the girls in the picture seem to have, they might have to get it chopped off.
posted by miyabo at 9:52 AM on March 31, 2015


Because women's lacrosse players and coaches will tell you very quickly and forcefully that it's not men's lacrosse nor do they have interest in it becoming men's lacrosse.

This sounds like the warning track a few people are trying to push in collegiate hockey. It is also a knee jerk measure that will do nothing for safety and let some people who don't really understand the sport say, "There we did something!"
posted by cmfletcher at 9:53 AM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Because they'd have to put their hair up.
Female hockey players wear full helmets (for a nominally "no-bodychecking" sport) and have no problem with long hair. They often just have it in a ponytail out the back.
posted by The arrows are too fast at 10:05 AM on March 31, 2015 [9 favorites]


The girl's field hockey team at my high school was a pretty brutal situation. There were many broken noses.

Our college Lacrosse team was equally vicious. People who believe that (some) women aren't as physically competitive as men need to attend more Roller Derby.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:09 AM on March 31, 2015 [6 favorites]


That headgear doesn't look particularly effective, or necessary. Women's lacrosse has a lot low tolerance for stick checking near the face. Women's sticks also don't allow for the really high ball speed you can achieve in the men's game.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 10:11 AM on March 31, 2015


I had no idea that girl's lacrosse was so ladylike.

I don't think the original statement has anything to do with the state of girl's lacrosse as it is now, so much as the idea that when people are wearing protective gear, regardless of what sport they're playing, they play more aggressively.
posted by Jpfed at 10:17 AM on March 31, 2015


Even men's lacrosse helmets when I played in high school weren't significantly protective, to the point where we just assumed that the main reason we wore them was for protection from the ball or from errant stick movement, rather than anything to do with a body check. I'd think there's a decent enough chance of getting a random shot or stick in the face in the women's game that wearing some kind of protection wouldn't be a bad idea. Aside from the gloves and maybe elbow pads, most men's lacrosse pads are pretty flimsy, but taking a shot on an exposed body part is pretty painful. After taking a couple, I wince just looking at pictures of women's lacrosse.
posted by LionIndex at 10:20 AM on March 31, 2015


Women's sticks also don't allow for the really high ball speed you can achieve in the men's game.

Men's rules allow a slightly deeper pocket, but that's going to be a tiny advantage in ball speed; it's more an advantage against stick checking.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:22 AM on March 31, 2015


Anyone have the bingo square for "[head protection] ... could make the [physical activity] more hazardous because it might embolden [participants] to be more aggressive"?
posted by ethansr at 10:22 AM on March 31, 2015 [9 favorites]


I'm not feeling much sympathy for either side, on first pass. The headbands are clearly ridiculous as protection, but the national org doesn't seem much concerned with a very high rate of concussions either. I'd suggest that Florida require actual helmets and the national organization finance a study to see if they reduce the number and effects of concussion. But that would be less petty so unlikely to happen.
posted by tavella at 10:23 AM on March 31, 2015 [5 favorites]


Women's sticks also don't allow for the really high ball speed you can achieve in the men's game.

This is probably true. In men's, you're allowed a fairly significant pocket in the stick which helps for ball control (thus requiring more force to dislodge, and therefore harder checks), but also keeps the ball in the stick for a more forceful windup. I've seen guys who've played but weren't anybody famous just walk up to a radar gun and launch shots over 100mph.
posted by LionIndex at 10:25 AM on March 31, 2015


Wait... that thing is "protective headgear"? I wear more protection than that when I dust my ceiling fans. Did they intentionally make it useless so they can throw up their hands and say "We tried our best and we failed miserably. The lesson is, never try."?
posted by Etrigan at 10:28 AM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


why don't they just wear helmets, like men's lacrosse?

If you read the second paragraph of the one small article that is the subject of the post, it will tell you. Seriously, put forth at least a little effort to join the intelligent conversation.
posted by Nelson at 10:29 AM on March 31, 2015


I suspect what leotrotsky would like is an actual good reason, not "waaaah! we don't want to look like boys!" "waaaah! It's tradition."

The only actual legitimate argument provided -- legitimate in that it at least has some reasoning -- is that it might lead to more aggressive play and overall more injuries. I personally suspect that that can be taken care of with referee training, but fine. Do a fucking study. Say "Florida, good point. Let's see what happens when the players wear real helmets. Let's work with a university to run a study and see how the concussion and injury rates compare with history and with other states."

Don't just look at " data that shows that girls’ lacrosse has the fifth-highest rate of concussions in high school sports" and players suffering "a devastating head injury while playing lacrosse" and go "waaaaaaah! It's tradition!"
posted by tavella at 10:37 AM on March 31, 2015 [9 favorites]


If you read the second paragraph of the one small article that is the subject of the post, it will tell you. Seriously, put forth at least a little effort to join the intelligent conversation.

That second paragraph in its entirety:
Boys’ lacrosse teams nationwide have worn hard-shell helmets for many years. Girls, who play by vastly different rules that generally forbid contact, have historically spurned most protective gear. In Florida, where lacrosse is a new sport, state officials instead reasoned that all lacrosse players are at risk for head trauma and defied the sport’s traditionalists by mandating a soft form of headgear for everyone in a girls’ lacrosse game or practice. (Goalies in girls’ lacrosse have worn helmets for several decades.)
That boils down to "Boys have worn helmets. And girls don't because they never have." Which is both not a real reason and not a real reason to bite somebody's head off in this thread when they ask a reasonable question NOT answered in the second paragraph.

Perhaps if you made at least a little effort to foster the intelligent conversation which seems dear to your heart.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:39 AM on March 31, 2015 [25 favorites]


Heh, the NY Times basically ran the same article four years ago: In Women's Lacrosse, Headgear Could Make the Game Rougher
posted by smackfu at 10:45 AM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


The part of the quote that seems most relevant to the question is "Girls, who play by vastly different rules that generally forbid contact, have historically spurned most protective gear." The rest of the article goes into great detail about the nature of contact, the details of what kinds of helmets prevent what kinds of injuries, and whether the wearing of helmets escalates violence. It's an interesting and complex topic and we will have a more interesting discussion if everyone reads the article. My apologies for the intemperate language.
posted by Nelson at 10:46 AM on March 31, 2015


(Although back in 2011, the debate seemed to just be helmet vs. no helmet and everyone acknowledged that soft headgear was pointless.)
posted by smackfu at 10:47 AM on March 31, 2015


The article seems more slanted towards women wearing protective headgear of some sort, although the headbands do seem kind of ridiculous. I felt like the main objection raised by the article was the cost - since women's lacrosse doesn't require the amount of equipment that men's does (where you have to at least have a helmet, shoulder pads, gloves, a stick and a mouthguard) it currently has a much lower economic barrier to entry. Sticks are fairly expensive, but if you have an active high school system going it shouldn't be too hard to find a perfectly fine used one. If there's any change in tone between this article and the previous one, I'd guess that's just the raised awareness of chronic brain injury in the past few years.

I don't think the tradition argument holds water, and I'm pretty skeptical about helmets making the game more aggressive. When I played, we never went for head shots with the stick, and you'd get a 2-minute penalty if the ref so much as heard the tell-tale sound of a stick hitting a helmet. If you're already playing a sport where physical contact is not allowed and called by refs when it happens, I don't see how that would change significantly. The article also notes that the majority of concussions in women's come from stick contact or being hit by the ball, while in men's it's from checking - I'd think that would tilt the needle pretty far towards actual headgear being legitimately beneficial. Maybe even just some kind of half-helmet that still allows goggles, similar to what bikers wear in states with helmet mandates.
posted by LionIndex at 10:58 AM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


When a baseball player goes up to bat, he/she wears a helmet to protect his/her head from being hit by a wild pitch. How is that so different from what's going on here?
posted by Lucinda at 10:58 AM on March 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


My daughter plays lacrosse, and I'd worry more about the lack of head protection if the players in her league weren't generally pretty awful (they're more likely to get hurt tripping over their own feet than by each other). But I've seen good girls' lacrosse and I definitely think helmets should be mandatory.
posted by padraigin at 11:00 AM on March 31, 2015 [5 favorites]


The only actual legitimate argument provided -- legitimate in that it at least has some reasoning -- is that it might lead to more aggressive play and overall more injuries.

We can see this in rugby, where players routinely eschew headgear, and aren't violent or aggressive.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:09 AM on March 31, 2015 [15 favorites]


Anyone have the bingo square for "[head protection] ... could make the [physical activity] more hazardous because it might embolden [participants] to be more aggressive"?

I DO I DO seriously our Healthcare Economics midterm was yesterday and I was quoting this article as an example of the Peltzman Effect
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:11 AM on March 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


Because they'd have to put their hair up.

Somehow all the ringette and hockey players manage. It's not like lacrosse is the first sport to require women to wear helmets.
posted by bonehead at 11:14 AM on March 31, 2015


I can understand the fear that girl's lacrosse will become like boys lacrosse (every year the girls and boys would play using the girl's rules. The boys did not stand a chance.), however, roller derby helmets cost all of $35 and would be more protective than the headbands. You don't need a full face guard, just something to stop the impact of a 80mph lacrosse ball.
posted by Hactar at 11:22 AM on March 31, 2015


Concussions are only part of the problem. If you get a lacrosse ball in the eye it can wreak all sorts of havoc. The men's helmets have a cage that protects against that.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 11:26 AM on March 31, 2015


The cages are also for the sticks, not just the balls. I suspect there are rather more people accidentally whacked or poked by another player than hit in the face by a ball. That's certainly true for hockey and ringette.
posted by bonehead at 11:26 AM on March 31, 2015


If you get a lacrosse ball in the eye it can wreak all sorts of havoc

Eye protection is already mandatory.
posted by smackfu at 11:27 AM on March 31, 2015


For what it's worth I have longer hair than most of the women I know and have no problem wearing a motorcycle helmet. I would probably get a ticket if I tried to substitute a foam headband.
posted by TedW at 11:28 AM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


My SO has four dead teeth across the front of her mouth where she got whacked in a lacrosse game by another girl who wasn't posting attention.
posted by biffa at 11:29 AM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Women's/girl's baseball/softball helmets have ponytail holes on the back of them already to accommodate long hair.

Anyone remember back when NHL players made the same argument about helmets? And how unnecessary they were? good times.
posted by GuyZero at 11:35 AM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Eye protection is already mandatory.

Sure, but helmet + goggles doesn't really make a lot of sense.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 11:41 AM on March 31, 2015


Anyone remember back when NHL players made the same argument about helmets?

Like it was the mid seventies.

And my parents were part of the same discussion about peewee hockey.
posted by bonehead at 11:42 AM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


>>I had no idea that girl's lacrosse was so ladylike.
>I don't think the original statement has anything to do with the state of girl's lacrosse as it is now, so much as the idea that when people are wearing protective gear, regardless of what sport they're playing, they play more aggressively.


It's an interesting thought, but if our women's lacrosse team had played any more aggressively they would have been sharpening the end of their sticks and stabbing each other.

If these were men I don't think anyone would even try to make this argument.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:47 AM on March 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


I hate "female" sports that are watered down versions of "male" sports. I hate that we accept this. Defend it, even.

You're a high school girl? Here, let me bully you into playing a sport because I think you're too weak, too soft, to play it correctly without getting hurt. Instead, you'll be offered a similar sport, but with all the sharp edges removed.

If I did this, I would expect gnashing of teeth. Hell, I'd expect to be fired.

But I just described softball as it's played in every high school in America. You know? The de-fanged version of baseball? Underhand pitches*. No mound. Bigger ball with less stitching, so it can't curve as easily. Shorter basepaths. No stealing bases allowed. Hell, the bat doesn't taper, so it can't deliver as much power.

It's fucking got "soft" right in the name.

Can you imagine if I created soft-soccer, where heading the ball wasn't allowed, and I went out of my way to get girls to play it? Abby Wambach would kick my ass.

How about if we told this girl that she couldn't climb too high?

* Don't come at me with Jennie Finch striking out major-leaguers. That's a bug, not a feature.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:50 AM on March 31, 2015 [10 favorites]


My default position is to side with the minimal protection the girls have traditionally enjoyed. That said:

We can see this in rugby, where players routinely eschew headgear, and aren't violent or aggressive.

This comes up in NFL discussions a lot, and there's some merit there. Rugby players are certainly aggressive, but not generally as reckless as NFL players. They're less likely to use their head as a weapon.

I don't think this applies to Women's LAX, though.

Anyone remember back when NHL players made the same argument about helmets? And how unnecessary they were?

The real opposition there was to grandfathering players who had played without them. Your hearing is better without a helmet, which is a factor in hockey. Players were more amenable to mandatory helmets, which hinders all equally.

Factor in that the ball in LAX is FAR more often at head level than a puck is, and I think this is a no brainer (er, smart.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:55 AM on March 31, 2015


The sticks are also at head level, almost constantly. The only real exception would be a ground ball.
posted by LionIndex at 12:01 PM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but the ball sits higher in the netting, so stick checking doesn't need as much force, which I think was the rational behind the original kit.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:05 PM on March 31, 2015


Right, but in men's, quite a few stick checks are on the bottom hand, rather than the top of the stick, since that'll mess up a pass or jar the ball loose with much less likelihood of a penalty. You certainly go for the top if you have an opening, but isnt that really the only option in women's? The pictures in the article show women playing without gloves...eeek!

CPB, I played when all the teams in my county were club teams, so they could be co-ed if a girl wanted to play. I took an attacker to my prom. Reader, I ... never dated her again because I was moving across the country in short order, but she's a lovely person.
posted by LionIndex at 12:16 PM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've played my share of non-contact hockey, and wouldn't dream of playing without a helmet and gloves. I'm shocked that it isn't already required in women's lacrosse, when there's so much ball and stick play at head-level.
posted by rocket88 at 12:27 PM on March 31, 2015


>Anyone have the bingo square for "[head protection] ... could make the [physical activity] more hazardous because it might embolden [participants] to be more aggressive"?

Was this argument ever used against car seatbelts for encouraging reckless driving? I'd bet money motorcyclists use it against helmet laws.
posted by BurntHombre at 12:34 PM on March 31, 2015


For pick-up shinny it's not so bad, but for even house league hockey/ringette, no friggen way. With no contact, a stick check is the only real checking you can do. Murder on bare hands and exposed faces.

I'm pretty surprised that "girls" lacrosse is played without at least gloves and goggles. I hope they at least wear mouth guards like we used to before full facemasks.
posted by bonehead at 12:37 PM on March 31, 2015


Goggles and mouthguards are required.
posted by LionIndex at 12:38 PM on March 31, 2015


You can shoot harder with a stick without a pocket actually.

Properly played the main risk of concussion in both men's and woman's is from getting hit with a ball. Also is better to think of woman's lacrosse as an entirely different game rather than a watered down version of men's. Other than stick, balls, goals everything else is different.

That said I don't see why helmets is such a big deal.
posted by JPD at 12:53 PM on March 31, 2015


Anyone have the bingo square for "[head protection] ... could make the [physical activity] more hazardous because it might embolden [participants] to be more aggressive"?

Was this argument ever used against car seatbelts for encouraging reckless driving? I'd bet money motorcyclists use it against helmet laws.


This bullshit gets dragged out all of the time, and it is almost always entirely bullshit. This should be self-evident; if adding safety equipment encourages more reckless play, then making the equipment more dangerous should by the same mechanism encourage safer play. If eye protection was forbidden, and the ball had spikes, for instance. Then players would, by this theory, be super-careful and the sport would be safer. But it is only ever applied to additional safety equipment added from the current conditions.

The same people who argue that wearing seatbelts encourage reckless driving never seem to argue the logical extension, that mounting a spike in the middle of everybody's steering wheel would make everybody real fucking careful out there.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 12:54 PM on March 31, 2015 [7 favorites]


Oh also dangerous shots are a foul in woman's.
posted by JPD at 12:55 PM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


In games that are explicitly about collision I think there is truth to the idea that more equipment means more aggressive play. In sports where collision is explicitly banned or tightly regulated, not so much.
posted by JPD at 12:57 PM on March 31, 2015


...girls’ lacrosse has the fifth-highest rate of concussions in high school sports — only football, ice hockey, boys’ lacrosse and girls’ soccer rank higher.

Soccer is also "non-contact".
posted by bonehead at 1:04 PM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Girls soccer has roughly 50x more contact than girls lacrosse.
posted by JPD at 1:07 PM on March 31, 2015


I played girls' lacrosse in high school in MA in the 1990s, during which time helmets were required for all public schools due to a previous lawsuit against the state. Firstly, long hair is no big deal, most of us pulled it back under a bandana before putting the helmet on. Secondly, women's lacrosse is not a watered down version of men's lacrosse, it's an entirely different game. less contact but a lot more skill (keeping the ball in a stick without a deep pocket requires constant arm motion- "cradling") and involves a lot more running (players can go all over the field whereas in men's they have stay within one third according to their position). There are no fixed boundaries. were taught that the women's game was more similar to the native American game from which the sport developed. As far as wearing helmets, we didn't like it because it reduced visibility and was also a consideration for people hoping to play in college as the rest of the country didn't wear them. But it wasn't a huge deal- they were an annoyance and probably did make the game slightly rougher in that players would be more inclined to try a high check (in women's checking means hitting your stick against an opponent's stick when they have the ball) near the head/face. probably mouth guards are the most useful piece of protection. considering all MA girls wore helmets during the 90s (at some point after I graduated the rule was revoked and they went back to eyewear and mouthguards) surely there would be some data available on injury rates plus video footage to examine for changes in playing style.
posted by emd3737 at 1:26 PM on March 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've seen guys who've played but weren't anybody famous just walk up to a radar gun and launch shots over 100mph.

Did you know that neither leg pads nor shin guards are normal equipment for goalies? The ball to the leg actually hurts less than the ball that gets past you due to limited mobility, but it still wasn't my favorite part of the game.
posted by snottydick at 1:54 PM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Anyone have the bingo square for "[head protection] ... could make the [physical activity] more hazardous because it might embolden [participants] to be more aggressive"?

The Paul Family owns it and they have built seven hotels on it and you now owe them $15000 and it doesn't matter if you are a cute little scottie or whether or not you chose to play the game because you are now in it whether you want to be or not and it is your own damn fault because you have made bad choices in your life and must now endure the consequences of your freedom*.


*Does not apply to the banker who has been slipping themselves well deserved extra cash on each turn while nobody was looking.
posted by srboisvert at 2:14 PM on March 31, 2015


Anyone remember back when NHL players made the same argument about helmets? And how unnecessary they were?

Moral hazard arguments are always made by people who have an advantage to be gained from a lack of safety.
posted by srboisvert at 2:20 PM on March 31, 2015


...girls’ lacrosse has the fifth-highest rate of concussions in high school sports — only football, ice hockey, boys’ lacrosse and girls’ soccer rank higher.

Soccer is also "non-contact".
posted by bonehead at 1:04 PM on March 31
[1 favorite +] [!]


No, soccer is very much a contact sport.
posted by JenMarie at 2:33 PM on March 31, 2015


Aren't a lot of soccer concussions from heading the ball?
posted by LionIndex at 2:37 PM on March 31, 2015


Heading the ball is pretty safe. Getting hit in the head by the ball when you aren't trying to head it, not so much. Two players knocking heads while both trying to head the ball, even worse.
posted by smackfu at 2:48 PM on March 31, 2015


Most concussions in soccer happen when someone's head hits the ground, typically as a result of "non-contact".
posted by bonehead at 2:52 PM on March 31, 2015


This comes up in NFL discussions a lot

And pretty much every time it does I have to point out people literally died on the field playing football until they started to add the safety equipment. It wasn't a safer game that way.

I had no idea that men's and women's lacrosse were basically different games, interesting thread.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:01 PM on March 31, 2015


But I just described softball as it's played in every high school in America.

Very much so; but can we meet together in the spirit of friendship and agree that softball is a good and honest sport for someone in their very early 20's to play while enjoying three to four cold domestic lagers and the seemingly unlimited crystalline sunshine that can only caress the faces of the truly naive?
posted by Divine_Wino at 3:16 PM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


On topic: It's good not to get your bell rung too often or get your face bashed or your teeth knocked out so people should wear helmets.
posted by Divine_Wino at 3:21 PM on March 31, 2015


"This bullshit gets dragged out all of the time, and it is almost always entirely bullshit."

No, it's almost always true ... but also almost always false with regard to aggregate harm. In other words, people are more aggressive/careless when they use safety equipment, but the added safety more than makes up for that. At the margins, though, there are examples where this isn't true and so some types of accidents and injuries increase. Sometimes you'll eliminate a big chunk of the huge middle-ground of moderately severe injuries, but see an increase in the most severe. With regard to football, it's the opposite -- the protection greatly reduces severe injuries and death from specific incidents, but it's created a "space" for long-term, lower-level head trauma that has cumulative effects. Good policymaking tries to anticipate those areas where you get these perverse effects and to ameliorate them.

Again, it's almost never the case that the safety equipment ends up leading to an increase in overall injury, but it can lead to an increase in some of the worst injuries and/or an increase in cumulative trauma as a result of making lower-level injuries more tolerable.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:32 PM on March 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


There can also be non-intuitive follow on effects which aren't easy to measure. Take requiring bike helmets for example. Seems like a no brainer. But if requiring adults to wear helmets leads to some adults driving instead of biking you might be far worse off than if you hadn't required the safety equipment in the first place.

Would requiring lacrosse helmets discourage participation? I doubt it. But you have to consider unintended consequences like that. Sometimes a marginal increase in safety isn't worth the costs.
posted by Justinian at 3:48 PM on March 31, 2015


The trouble is that there are a lot of bimodal injuries in sports - a high-speed lacrosse ball to the thigh or even the chest is merely uncomfortable. That same ball to the eye or temple could be fatal. Apparently a handful (100?) of kids have been killed in baseball by taking a pitch direct to the chest which caused "commotio cordis", basically their heartbeat was disrupted and couldn't restart. No one has required chest protectors yet, but they're available and it may be required someday.

Thus, helmets.

The whole argument about bike riders is about casual riders. Pro cyclists wear helmets all the time, every time. Anyone in a bike race wears a helmet, even us Cat 6 types. The casual rider issue doesn't apply to any organized sport at all.
posted by GuyZero at 3:59 PM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pro riders whined bitterly when the rules were changed to require helmets. All of their arguments were stupid, of course (as are all arguments against helmet use) but as usual it came down to habit and tradition and now it's just a matter of course.
posted by klanawa at 4:06 PM on March 31, 2015


I think NFL is an important data point. The players wear a considerable amount of protection, but they still have a huge injury rate, including long-term injuries from concussions. Other football codes have no armor (in Australian Rules they basically wear short-shorts and a t-shirt) and their injury rates and seriousness seem dramatically less. I think we need to consider the possibility that armor creates a false sense of invulnerability
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:27 PM on March 31, 2015


Injury rates are extremely high in those other codes. The issue is the cumulative severity of head blows that can only be delivered in pads.

An AFL player throws his body around to the same injury threshold as an NFL player,
posted by JPD at 4:54 PM on March 31, 2015


Lacrosse has had an issue with commotio cordis. I want to say 2-3 people have died over the last 20 years.
posted by JPD at 4:56 PM on March 31, 2015


No one has required chest protectors yet, but they're available and it may be required someday.

They required them for one year when I played little league and told us a bunch of scare stories about why. It freaked me out so much that I could never bat right again because I thought the ball was going to kill me.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:01 PM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Homeboy Trouble: "The same people who argue that wearing seatbelts encourage reckless driving never seem to argue the logical extension, that mounting a spike in the middle of everybody's steering wheel would make everybody real fucking careful out there."

I'm confused, because I've heard them say exactly that, and the suggestion is so specific I have to imagine you didn't just make it up on the spot.
posted by pwnguin at 9:23 PM on March 31, 2015


...mounting a spike in the middle of everybody's steering wheel would make everybody real fucking careful out there.

Well, there already is an explosive charge in the middle of everybodies steering wheel in the name of safety.
posted by TedW at 8:05 AM on April 1, 2015


I don't have any information about Aussie Rules, but USA Rugby, the governing body of American rugby union, has had a big push on recognizing the symptoms of concussion and instituted rules about mandatory concussion training for coaches, minimum time off after concussion and requiring medical personnel on site during league games. I don't have any data, but personal observation over 20 years of playing college and senior league rugby tells me that concussions are pretty common.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 8:16 AM on April 1, 2015


Drinky Die: "And pretty much every time it does I have to point out people literally died on the field playing football until they started to add the safety equipment. It wasn't a safer game that way."

They also significantly changed the rules to make brutal, wall-of-men type plays less attractive. Most importantly, the forward pass was legalized, but additionally, first downs went to 10 yards, a neutral zone on snaps was added, and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties were instituted. All of which encouraged a more wide open game and less slamming into people full speed.

That's not to say that the "safer equipment = more unsafe behavior" isn't 99% bullshit, I agree that it is. But a major factor in increased football safety was rule changes in the game, it was not just due to safer equipment.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:27 AM on April 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


The "spike on steering wheels" line appears to be from Gordon Tullock who is, perhaps unsurprisingly, an economist.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:36 AM on April 3, 2015


I agree 100% Chrysostom. I should have said safety equipment and rule changes that improved safety. My only point is that people are crazy enough to engage in extremely dangerous play even if you take away the equipment.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:04 PM on April 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


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