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Lawmakers May Soon Require Headgear For Women's Lacrosse

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Lawmakers are meeting some opposition for a new push to require headgear for certain sports. The question is: Why are some lacrosse players required to wear it and others are not?

Gigi Barnett explains in Maryland, the difference comes down to males and females.

Lacrosse is the official team sport of Maryland but on the field, the men wear more gear--mainly helmets to prevent concussions. It's a difference two state lawmakers noticed this legislative session. They called for changes in a bill that, if passed, would require women to don headgear, too.

But the bill has recently come under fire.

"The answer to this problem is not as simple as just putting female lacrosse players in men's helmets and letting them go play," said sports physician Dr. Richard Hinton.

Hinton is the head physician for the women's national lacrosse team. He says the fear of head injuries sparked the debate years ago but there isn't standard headgear on the market right now that would adequately protect women. Plus, Hinton says that women's lacrosse is much different and safer than the men's version.

"What is going to prevent head injuries in the women's game is not the same thing that is going to protect and prevent head injury in the men's game because they're different sports," Hinton said.

Other women's sports--like soccer--have also taken up the issue of head injuries after a series of dangerous hits on the field.

Reaction from parents and players is divided.

"I have mixed emotions because they're so used to playing without something on their head and I'm afraid it might get more violent," said parent Cheryl Seats. "More hitting."

"I think it could help in a way because most people do get checked in the head and they are out with concussions but I don't see it most of the time," said lacrosse player Caroline May.

This week, Delegates Jon Cardin and Dana Stein put their bill on hold to do more research. They agree with sports doctors who say what's needed on the lacrosse field is more education, not necessarily equipment to keep female players safe.

Sports doctors say the number of concussions for women who play lacrosse is in the lower third of overall injury rates, behind basketball, soccer and softball.

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