What now? New Jersey school district requires soccer players to wear helmets

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PRINCETON, N.J. – School districts continue to take extreme measures in an effort to protect students – and probably prevent lawsuits.

soccer players to wear helmetsFirst a school in New York banned footballs, baseballs and basketballs, then a district in New Hampshire banned the game of tag.

Now a New Jersey district is forcing soccer players to wear helmets.

According to a report from Townhall.com, the Princeton school board has approved a plan which would mandate the use of helmets for student athletes during soccer games.

NBC news anchor Brian Williams summed it up best when he said that sanctions like these are “Another attempt to end childhood as we know it.”

Not only will the headgear cost the district anywhere between $35 and $70 each, but recent studies have questioned the effectiveness of helmets.

Some say that requiring headgear will actually increase the likelihood of receiving head injuries.

Joanna Boyd, a concussion specialist at the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey, said that there is no evidence one way or another about whether this kind of headgear can minimize the effects of any hit to the head, reports Newsworks.

“The damage created by that is going to depend on so many other environmental factors,” she said. “It’s the speed, it’s the angle, it’s the kind of hit it is.”

Some suggest that athletes who are wearing more equipment will be more likely to be more aggressive, causing more harm.

“I’m concerned that the players who are better padded will be more emboldened to do things they never would have thought to do before,” said Marc Block, a longtime soccer referee, in the Newsworks article.

Many critics agree that the new policy goes too far and could actually do more harm than good.

Concussions are certainly terrible, but they can happen both on and off a field, and with or without a helmet, Townhall reports.

Yet the Princeton school board remains steadfast in its decision.

“If this helps one kid minimize an injury, then I think that it’s well worth it,” school board president Tim Quinn said.

But as studies have shown, even if the headgear minimizes one student’s injuries, it could increase the likelihood of more serious injuries for more students.

The school district is doing a good job of ignoring the potential dangers of this new mandate. Perhaps that’s because their attorney told them the headgear rule might protect them from potential lawsuits, regardless of any injuries involved.

By Trevor TenBrink at EAGnews.org

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