FREEPORT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — After years of debate, helmets are making a debut this spring at girls lacrosse games.

Boys are required to wear helmets, but until now girls weren’t allowed to.

As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, school administrators called the new national standard a smart move.

“Accidents happen, there are balls that fly around, sticks to the head with the light checking,” Freeport Athletic Director, Jonathan Bloom said.

Freeport is one of several Long Island districts outfitting every player, after U.S. Lacrosse recently changed its standards for girls after years of research and debate.

Helmets are now optional for girls in what’s considered a non-contact sport.

“Contact actually happens. Some of the girls are really aggressive,” Freeport’s Deanna Carroll said.

Carroll has been hit with a stick to the head.

Critics predict helmets may now make the game rougher and less safe, with dangerous collisions between players with and without helmets.

The new headgear is flexible.

“The whole idea behind it is not changing the game. It’s not a full helmet, so it’s not that girls are going to start doing body checks. Keeping the game the same, but making it a lot safer,” Lacrosse Unlimited, Manager, Chris D’Aconti said.

Teenage girls who grew up with head-banded hair on the field are still getting used to the feel and look.

“At first it was annoying and hard to get used to, and I would dread having to put it on,” Faridate Lawal said.

“The look is important to any female, of course it is, but now it’s just part of our regular uniform,” Ananda Norris said.

Looks matter, but coaches say, what matters more is safety.

“Your look on the field can change very quickly when a ball hits you in the face, so I’m much happier and they are too when they have something covering them,” Freeport coach, Gina DiPalo said.

Of the 4,400 girls who play lacrosse on Long Island, 65 of them had concussions last season. Even so, U.S. Lacrosse emphassizes the helmets are completely optional from youth leagues to college.

The new helmets cost around $150 each with discounts when bought in bulk for teams.



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