PUBLISHED: 11:19 EST, 9 October 2013 | UPDATED: 16:30 EST, 9 October 2013
A New Jersey school district is ordering all students who play soccer – and other non-contact sports – to wear helmets on the field.
The Princeton School District’s new rule is causing many parents – and even some doctors – to question whether soccer is really dangerous enough to warrant mandatory headgear to protect children from concussion.
However, school administrators are moving forward with a plan to purchase $70 soft helmets for every athlete grades six through 12 who plays soccer, field hockey or girls’ lacrosse.
Too much protection? Parents are questioning whether high school soccer is dangerous enough to require the use of helmet. (Pictured, Chelsea goalkeeper Goalkeeper Petr Cech)
The Times of Trenton reports that concussions and head injuries are not common among Princeton schools student athletes, but coaches and members of the school board say that doesn’t alleviate their concern.
‘We’re very aware that for players in all sports there’s a risk of head injuries and we’re just trying to do whatever we can to prevent them,’ Princeton school board president Timothy Quinn said.
Judy Goldstein, the field hockey coach at neighboring Hamilton High School West, says some of her girls have suffered concussions in the past – but she thinks requiring helmets is overkill.
‘Accidents are going to happen. I don’t know if we can protect these kids with every single step,’ she said.
‘I just think it’s too much for the headgear in field hockey. I have a feeling that the more you load onto the kids, the less likely they are to play the sport.’
The only problem, several experts say, is that soft helmets won’t prevent concussions and they are actually likely to do more harm than good.
This is the $70 helmet that Princeton schools will be buying for all students who play soccer, field hockey and girls’ lacrosse
Pediatric neurosurgeon Dr Alexander Post, with the New Jersey Pediatric Neuroscience Institute, told the Times: ‘You can get a concussion from pretty much doing anything. Any activity carries a certain degree of potential risk and you have to weigh that risk.
‘In general, the headgear is good for reducing abrasions and lacerations, but not for protecting against concussions to any significant degree.’
Other experts say the headgear is likely to give student athletes a false sense of security – causing them to play more aggressively and without as much regard for their safety.
Princeton schools currently require headgear for all sixth graders this year and allow parents of older students to opt their children out of the project. However, the program will grow – adding a grade a year, until the headgear is mandatory for all middle and high school students.
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