Tag Archives: helmet

Kids Need To Get Hurt

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When you work as a sports official you get used to people sensationalizing just about anything:

  • “If you don’t call that ref someone is going to get killed!”
  • “You must be the single worst official I have ever seen!”
  • “You aren’t keeping my players safe!”
  • “What did I [the coach] do? I didn’t do anything wrong, and if you say I did then you’re a liar!”

Context is huge is officiating. So when I see a sensationalized news story that either does not research the full context of a story, or eliminates a key piece of information that provides context, I like to wait and see what else comes out.

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/10/07/long-island-middle-school-bans-footballs-other-recreational-items/ – This is the article that broke the story of a Long Island middle school banning “footballs, baseballs, lacrosse balls, or anything that might hurt someone on school grounds.” As to be expected, every internet keyboard warrior came out in droves and responded to this article. Some stated that is this proof of the wussification of America, while others said that you can’t be too careful when it comes to protecting children. When I first read this article I had a strong reaction to it because the article was written in a way to get me to have a strong reaction and drive up viewership and comments on the article’s website. However, this CBS Local New York author did not include a major part which actually explains the situation more reasonably.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/09/living/parents-middle-school-bans-balls-recess/index.html – I waited one day, and sure enough a report from correspondent and editor-at-large Kelly Wallace actually put the sensationalized story into context. Apparently the Local CBS writer could not find the school’s press release stating that the ban on “footballs, baseballs, lacrosse balls, or anything that might hurt someone on school grounds,” was also started due to construction nearby. Forcing kids to play their familiar and fun games in much closer proximity to one another, which increased the potential for injury. “Soft nerf balls will be provided during recess, and kids can play with hardballs during gym and intramural athletics” reported Kelly Wallace. That means that the ban that was sensationalized by the earlier article was really just a ban on items that could cause injury due to kids getting packed together because of the construction near the school.

Now, my beef with the CNN article is that while it provided much needed context about the school’s decision to ban fun things to play with at recess, it also had a sensational title. My tenth grade english teacher taught me that titles need to be exciting enough to grab the reader’s attention, but also tell the reader what they will read. Here is what both articles should have titled their reporting with:

Long Island Middle School Bans Hard Balls At Recess Due To Dangerous Construction Activity

See what I did there? It is still a punchy and exciting title, but it provides much needed context to a hot-button issue. Aside from the title, I have no problems with Kelly Wallace’s article. I do have an issue with just about everything in the CBS Local article, and here are a few sentences I have a problem with:

  • “Without helmets and pads, children are much more susceptible to getting hurt, experts said.” – Wow. I feel dumber after reading that. Of course pads and helmets protect children. Heck, they protect everyone! I’m still not going to put a kid in padded armor just so he or she can leave the house unattended or cross the street by themselves.
  • “They have instituted a ban on footballs, baseballs, lacrosse balls, or anything that might hurt someone on school grounds.” – Let’s examine that last point about anything that might hurt someone. That implies that schools should consider eliminating all hard surfaces kids could run into, sharp objects that kids could poke themselves with, small objects that kids could choke on, and hot foods that kids could burn their mouths with. The world is a dangerous place, and you can’t protect a child from everything. I’d rather the kid learn to not run full speed into a concrete wall when he’s four because the memory of not doing something that foolish will be burned into his mind for the rest of his life.
  • Both articles quoted Port Washington Schools Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Maloney stating, “Some of these injuries can unintentionally become very serious, so we want to make sure our children have fun, but are also protected.” I believe Dr. Maloney needs to choose her words more carefully because any injury can “unintentionally” become very serious. I have seen kids fall after a very soft hit, but they break their collarbone because they hit the ground in a weird way. I’ve also seen players take a cross-check directly to their helmet and absorb the hit without injury. There is a huge range when it comes to injuries, but the only way to prevent “unintentional” injuries is to keep kids in padded rooms with a helmet on and no interaction with other human beings. Hopefully they won’t “unintentionally” go crazy from the lack of contact with other people.
  • “The Port Washington district said the softer foam balls put students in the best situation to cut down the chance of getting injured.” – The Port Washington district’s stance on soft foam balls misses a key provision. Say a bunch of kids are playing touch football with the soft nerf ball. One kid jumps up to catch the ball, but doesn’t stick the landing. His awkward landing breaks his leg, which lands him in the Emergency Room, and he has to wear a cast for the next four months. The soft nerf ball did not cut down on his change of getting injured, and I contend that kids have a fair chance at breaking a leg whether they play with a regular football or a soft one.

I am an official. My job is keeping players safe, but I always know that players can get injured on legal plays just as they can get injured on illegal plays. The only way to keep players from getting hurt playing the game they love is to not let them play the game.

The originator of lacrosse rules, William George Beers, said it best – “no game is worth a fig if it has not some spice of danger”. I believe kids need to learn how to get hurt. Otherwise they never learn how to deal with pain.

Featured Image Credit – www.betadadblog.com


Something About Stink

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The post below is my very first guest post! I was contacted by Mike, the owner of Odor Gladiator, a cool and revolutionary tool that “Brings the Battle to your Bag!” Mike sent me my very own Odor Gladiator as a thank you for the post, and I am very grateful to have this stink-eliminating OG for when the season begins and I start living out of my car again.

Queen Elizabeth once declared, “I take a bath once a month whether I need it or not!” I think everyone in our modern age goes “ewwwww” after reading that sentence, but in the Elizabethan era she was considered the epitome of cleanliness because most people bathed less than ten times a year, if they bathed at all. Then in 1605, Francis Bacon wrote that “cleanness of body was ever deemed to proceed from a due reverence to God.” That quote became the oft-repeated, “cleanliness is next to godliness” line that we have all heard since childhood. Ever since then, being clean was very much the thing to do.

So why, oh why do athletes love their stinky gear? They know it is harboring bacteria. They know how unpleasant it feels to put on cold, sweaty equipment. They know it is unhygienic, and can cause staph infections. So why do they do it? Simple – there is something about stink.

I challenge you to find one high schooler who will go to school in stinky clothes, but they will go to practice and open up an equipment bag that is so rancid smelling that passing birds fall dead from the sky. Then they put on that foul smelling gear and play! They know it stinks to high heaven yet they still put it on. Why? Because there is something about stink.

Bring the Battle to your Bag!

Bring the Battle to your Bag!

As a former lacrosse player I know all too well the allure of stinky gear. It is a badge of honor, a right of passage, and an on-field weapon. I used to brag that my gear smelled so bad that opposing players would not try to dodge against me, for fear of the stench. One day I went to get my gear bag out of the garage and it was gone. My mother had had enough. She took my shoulder pads, arm pads, gloves, and the bag and stuffed them into the washing machine. I was devastated. Plus, all of my gear felt weird on my body after being pummeled in the dryer, which just added insult to injury.

The next day I dragged my bag to practice, extremely unhappy that all of my gear felt alien on my body. I dressed for practice, started moving, and then something strange happened. I forgot that I was wearing clean, non-smelly, and ill-fitting gear. Eventually the equipment conformed to my body again, and I was playing as well as I usually played. The lightbulb clicked on in my head, I could play with clean gear and still be comfortable!

However, it took some trial-and-error before I figured out the golden rule of equipment washing: air-drying. There is something about putting gear in a dryer that makes it feel funny, especially the gloves. I have found that I can put my shoulder and arm pads in the dryer without ill-effect, but my gloves need to be air dried in order to preserve their “feel.” Last is the helmet, which usually got either a healthy helping of Febreze or wiped down inside and out with Lysol disinfectant wipes.

Over time, practicing and playing with clean equipment became the normal thing to do. I just had to overcome my initial resistance to the idea before realizing that wearing nasty gear made about as much sense as walking the school hallways in clothes from the bottom of my hamper.

To the parents – If your child is hesitant about cleaning their equipment, reiterate to them that playing sports is a privilege, not a right. In order to play they must also be able to keep their own gear clean and smell-free.

To the players – Is it a pain to wash your equipment? Yes. I’m not going to try and spin that chore as being pleasant. Want to know what is more unpleasant? A six-week staph infection that will not go away and requires you to shave your leg to keep the medicated bandage in close contact with your skin. That happened to me my junior year of high school and that really stunk.


P.S. – Customize your own Odor Gladiator at www.odorgladiator.com. Once you get your very own OG, check out Mike’s video on how to prepare it for battle!

Gearing Up Properly

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I have lost count of the number of players and parents who come up to me before a game asking for help putting on lacrosse equipment. For the old hats in this game putting on your gear is second nature but we forget how intimidating all that gear is for new players. Especially if they have not played a sport that required so much equipment to play.

I am certain I will help out some new players this season, but I hope this video will assist our new parents and players in the proper way to gear up before they hit the field. However, if you forget how to put your gear on find an AYL staff member and ask them to help you out!