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Thick-Skulled? Some Question Plan To Make Princeton, N.J. Athletes Wear Head Gear

One Parent Says Quit Micro-Managing And 'Just Let Them Play'

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PRINCETON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey town will now require kids playing soccer and lacrosse to wear protective gear head gear, but some people say the idea is “thick-skulled.”

The Princeton School District is known for playing host to a number of successful athletic programs, especially its state champion boys soccer team.

Now, teams in Princeton will lead the pack in a different way when soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey players don required protective head gear.

“We’ve witnessed, through the years, some serious injuries on our teams and the opposing schools,” Athletic Director John Miranda told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan on Thursday.

The district said it will give the equipment to students at no cost, and has yet to determine what type of equipment will be used. Officials have also asked high school players to wear the head gear on a voluntary basis, but that request may not be enough to get some athletes to play ball.

“I think you always look around for an opening, that would affect you,” said T.J. Gibbons, who was concerned that the head gear could affect his game.

The equipment already exists for lacrosse players, and the district is looking for gear with a soft exterior that would cover the forehead, temples, and top of the head.

“Oftentimes kids get concussions even with their helmets on, so without them you keep getting head injuries,” lacrosse player Connor McCormick said.

But, McCormick said, he doesn’t think soccer players need the added protection.

“There’s no sticks involved, just leaning your body with the feet,” he said.

Miranda disagreed.

“We think we’re doing the right thing by being proactive,” he explained.

Nearly half of the 3.8-million concussions reported by the Center For Disease Control in 2012 were sports related.

A spokesman for the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey applauded the move, but added that research on the subject was lacking.

“There is no good, concrete, clinical evidence that currently supports that any kind of protective equipment is going to prevent concussions,” the spokesman said.

Even some parents were skeptical.

“You can always take it a step further and wrap them in bubble-wrap and you know, but at some point you just have to let them play,” Lisa Flood said.

The Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey said that the best way to prevent head injuries is to enforce the rules of the game and have injured players sit out. State and national athletic organizations are working with the school district to ensure that the proper equipment is used.

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