Lacrosse: Same sport, different rules


Madeline Powers, General assistant

In today’s sports society, women get confined to play certain sports or certain versions of sports. For example, girls play softball, a modified version of baseball, and women’s football does not exist on a serious level, but on a “powder puff” version, usually requiring women to wear and play in skimpy outfits. Lacrosse, however, operates under the illusion of equality; however, the boys and girls teams play quite a different game with the same title.

In a men’s lacrosse game, players must wear a variety of different protection equipment including a helmet, mouthpiece, gloves, shoulder pads, arm pads, and rib pads, while women only wear a mouthpiece and protective eyewear, with the exception of the goalie. Such contrast exists because men’s lacrosse permits aggressive contact, with legal body-checking encouraged by most coaches. In the women’s game, rough checks and body contact are not allowed, even though women’s lacrosse holds the position of the second most likely sport to get a concussion from, following football.

“There are a lot of concepts that are the same, like shooting, passing and catching, but it is played differently. In boys lacrosse, you can be a lot more physical so you can work off your defender, and in girls lacrosse I feel like you need more space to maintain the ball,” freshman Trenton Nolan said.

Gender should not define the amount of protection one receives. Helmets provide much more protection than goggles because it includes the overall protection of the head rather than just the eyes. Although the allowed contact levels in the game differ from women to men, the concussion rates tell a different story. People believe that women should not wear helmets because of the “gladiator effect.”  The gladiator effect, the feeling of invincibility while wearing a helmet, could dictate why women should not wear helmets, but no evidence exists that when an athlete puts on a helmet they will suddenly become an aggressive, “macho” player.

“I think [the protection equipment] is unfair because this season we had two girls out with concussions, our two best players, and one out with a sprained ankle. People think girls are not as physical, but that is such a lie because we are so physical in our actions,” varsity lacrosse player and junior Jasmine Nazario said.

The women’s rulebook enforces the restrictions on the use of mesh for the net of the stick, and women use traditionally strung lacrosse sticks. The mesh allowed in men’s lacrosse sticks gives players a greater hold on the ball. Without the permitted use of mesh in nets, stickhandling and shooting becomes much more strenuous in the women’s game.

“Boys’ lacrosse sticks have deeper pockets, so they don’t have to cradle as much as us, and if we don’t cradle the ball it will fall out,” Nazario said.        

Overall, the women’s game contains more rules and regulations about actions such as checking, striking another player with the stick, or cradling the ball.

Women fight for legal rights and military positions, so why does something as simple as a sport span such a large equality gap between women and men?