Every man in the world cringes whenever we see another guy take a hit to “The Boys.” Use any euphemism you prefer but getting hit in the family jewels is an experience every guy goes through and never, ever wants to repeat. You may be surprised that parents spend a hundred dollars on a helmet but never invest in a twelve dollar concave piece of plastic whose only purpose is the continuation of their bloodline twenty years down the road, but I am not. There is an unfortunate stigma against having a cup in your bag and an even bigger stigma if a player straps one on. I am guilty as a player and a coach of perpetuating this stigma while my own experiences demand I advocate for required protective cup use at every level of play.
During ten years of play I took two shots from twelve yards away directly to my family jewels. There are times when we all ask God for a sign of what to do in the future. Well, that first shot to my cojones was a blast from the heavens complete with angels singing hosanas. I remember seeing stars and a bright shining light filled with hope and good feelings. Even with that gigantic billboard of a sign that stated: “Thou Shalt Wear a Cup” I shrugged off the hit as an unlucky situation and forgot about protecting myself.
The second shot came a few years later but this time there was no sign from above. Just deafening pain that squeezed my eyes into the back of my head and pulled my body into the fetal position. There I was rocking back and forth moaning languages I did not speak and desperately trying to find an off button for the pain. In a brief moment of clarity between dry heaving sobs a tiny whisper in the back of my mind kept repeating, “you can only blame yourself.”
After the second shot I started wearing a cup religiously in practice but not in games. I was stuck on the notion that wearing a cup would slow me down when I needed speed the most. This stigma is perpetuated at the highest level of professional sports in this country. David Flemming from ESPN reported the following:
“If you want to get made fun of by your teammates,” says one current NFL player, “wearing a cup would be the fastest way to do it. In all the games I’ve played — on every level of the game — I’ve only caught a knee down there once or twice. It’s not the best feeling in the world. And no one wants to have millions of people watching you cupping your (cashews) in agony. But if someone came out wearing a cup, the rest of the team would be like, ‘What’s going on with this guy?'” (Flemming)
This is a perception that needs to change. Could you imagine if players wore helmets as liberally as they wear a protective cup? Perhaps the biggest problem is that bad shots to the nether regions are few and far between. When a player goes down everyone gasps initially then claps when he staggers to his feet. No one says anything other than “hope he is wearing a cup.” Imagine another scenario when a player lowers his head and spears an opponent. Fans jump to their feet and scream “take that kid out of the game he’s going to hurt someone!” The referees assess the penalty and both coaches explain how dangerous spearing is and why it should be avoided. No one does the same thing when a player not wearing a cup gets a low blow. There is no explanation to players that wearing a cup is a smart thing to do even.
As responsible adults managing youth lacrosse games it is our responsibility to ensure the safety of the participants and their descendants. So please go out and purchase a cup. Your grandkids will thank you later.
If you are interested in purchasing a lacrosse specific protective cup please visit: www.nuttybuddy.com
To further make you cringe and hopefully show the importance of wearing the least used protective item in your bag please view the video below. I will warn you it is not for the faint of heart.
Featured Image Credit – www.yoshindo.blogspot.com