Sports Law • Risk Management

Lacrosse: Contact Sport?

Even though I have seen men’s professional lacrosse before, this weekend I witnessed my first collegiate women’s lacrosse game. According to US Lacrosse, in the United States the sport is the both the oldest and the fastest growing at both the high school and collegiate level. I recently learned that men’s lacrosse is a contact sport, while women’s lacrosse is a non-contact sport. Thus, there are different rules and protective equipment requirements depending on whether it is men or women playing.

Here are some of the differences between men’s and women’s lacrosse:

• Under the men’s rules, some body and stick contact is permitted. However, under the women’s rules, only limited stick contact is permitted.
• The men must wear helmets, shoulder pads, wrist pads, arm pads, gloves and mouth guards are required. Whereas, the women must wear protective eyewear and mouth guards, while gloves are optional. However, the women’s goalie must wear a chest protector and throat protector.
• Women have more players and a longer field than the men.

Although the men and women are playing the same sport, the variation in rules and required protective equipment make it quite a different game. As such, men are playing a contact sport and women are playing a non-contact sport.

US Lacrosse is smart to require extra protective equipment for those playing a contact sport, because athletes engaging in contact are more likely to sustain injuries. However, it may be wise to consider also requiring more protective equipment to women’s lacrosse. For instance, it may be a good idea to require helmets to be worn. Even though the women’s program is not a contact sport, a female could sustain a concussion from an accidental blow to the head by a lacrosse stick. Even though a sport is considered non-contact, it is always a good idea to consider what protective equipment may be beneficial to keep the athletes safe.