Female athletes who suffered a concussion playing lacrosse at an NCAA-governed college or university.
What’s Going On?
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are investigating whether the NCAA put female lacrosse players in harm’s way by not requiring them to wear protective helmets, which are mandatory in the men’s game. They believe a class action could be filed, but first need to hear from women who were injured playing the sport.
Would I Have to Sue My School?
No. Attorneys are interested in filing a class action lawsuit against the NCAA, not colleges and universities where the women play.
How Could a Class Action Lawsuit Help?
A class action lawsuit, if filed and successful, could force the NCAA to change its rules regarding the use of helmets in women’s lacrosse.
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org want to speak to women who play lacrosse for an NCAA-governed school and have suffered a concussion.
They’re looking into whether a class action lawsuit can be filed over the organization’s decision to ban protective helmets in the women’s game, despite this equipment being required for male players.
Attorneys believe the NCAA knowingly put female lacrosse players – who already have a higher rate of head and other injuries than their male counterparts – at risk for concussions and intend to change their antiquated rules.
How Could a Class Action Help?
If filed and successful, a class action lawsuit could force the NCAA to change its rules and require female athletes to wear protective helmets during play.
Notably, attorneys are looking to sue the NCAA specifically – not the colleges and universities where the women play.
Why Are There No Helmets in Women’s Lacrosse?
Ultimately, the use of helmets is prohibited in women’s lacrosse because the sport is viewed as “no contact.” Men’s lacrosse, on the other hand, is considered a full-contact sport and thus requires the use of a full protective helmet.
Attorneys believe these rules to be discriminatory and outdated, however, mostly due to the fact that female lacrosse players – despite technically playing a “no contact” sport – suffer higher rates of head injuries than their male counterparts. Indeed, an article from Future Medicine’s Concussion medical journal states that:
[A]n epidemiological study using over 1 million athletic exposures in high school and college men's and women's lacrosse over four seasons, found that although women's lacrosse has a no-contact rule, women players had a higher rate of head, face and eye injuries than men; 40% of these injuries were concussions.”
One of the most prevalent arguments against the use of helmets in women’s lacrosse is that it will have a “gladiator effect,” that is, will make women feel “invincible” and transform lacrosse into a game of aggression rather than skill; however, it has been argued that such a risk could be mitigated by consistent enforcement of rules by referees, as well as proper education among officials, coaches and players. Indeed, in speaking with The New York Times, Dawn Comstock, an associate professor of epidemiology for the Pediatric Injury Prevention, Education and Research Program at the Colorado School of Public Health, reportedly “scoffed” at the theory of the “gladiator effect”:
“If the officials enforce the rules and the coaches teach by the rules, then the game cannot change,” she said. “Athletes cannot play more aggressively unless you allow them to do so.”
Women’s lacrosse players can now wear certain types of “soft” headgear that is “significantly different” and “less protective” than the helmets used in men’s lacrosse; however, attorneys believe this change is not enough to protect athletes on the field when women’s lacrosse has ranked second only to football in terms of concussion incidence rates among high school and college athletes.