What are the US Lacrosse guidelines for head injuries, and what are you doing to make sure this message gets out?
We’re doing a ton. We have a very dynamic sport science and safety committee includes some of the foremost experts on concussion in sports. They’ll conduct presentations (this weekend). Last fall, we made a formal presentation to the NCAA and the National Federation of State High School Associations boys rules committee to add specific language that severely penalizes any contact with an opponents’ head. We’ve also got a very robust library of information on our website. In the last three or four years, we’ve invested at least $250,000 in research on concussions.
Steve Stenersen, a Baltimore native and North Carolina grad, is President and CEO of US Lacrosse.
Lacrosse is the fastest growing team sport in the country, but it is still very immature. For instance, there is no national standard for youth rules. If you go to both San Diego, Cal. and Milford, Mass. and play Under-13 boys lacrosse, you may be playing by different rules. That inconsistency is a safety issue. So, this year, we’ll be writing youth rule books for boys and girls lacrosse that, for the first time, are focused on the cognitive and physical development stages of kids, rather than adaptations of adult rules. Soccer is a model for that, and we’re taking a lead on it.
Q: Lacrosse has seen tremendous growth to the west, and in states where the game hasn’t been played before. Do you see that growth leveling off any time soon?
No. The breadth of play has exploded domestically. National participation has more than doubled in the last 10 years to nearly 700,000, and they’re now playing lacrosse in every major metro area. Ironically, lacrosse is the oldest sport native to North America, but it’s also the newest team sport in terms of dramatic growth in the U.S.
What could impede growth? Safety. If a lot of kids start getting hurt, people will steer away from the game. But that won’t happen if we do our job.
So many more kids in so many more zip codes want to play that the real challenge is finding a balance between the game’s integrity and its evolution. As broadly as lacrosse has grown, there is parochialism, self-interest and private enterprise. Now, people see lacrosse as a market and are trying to leverage that market for business purposes. If you run a recruiting tournament or a private club program, are you interested in what’s best for 10-year-olds, or in what’s best for your business plan? When you start to factor financial gain into decisions you make about children, people can be very conflicted. Trying to manage those influences caused by growth is part of our challenge.
Q: Will lacrosse become the sport kids turn to, instead of soccer?
A: I don’t want lacrosse to be the next soccer. I want to give kids an alternative to soccer, so they can play both it and something else. We’re firm believers in multi-sport participation at the youth level. Sport specialization at an early age is unhealthy. You get overuse injuries and burnout. Nine of 10 college lacrosse coaches will tell you they’d rather have a student-athlete who plays multiple sports than one who has played only lacrosse for the last six years.
There are more than 3 million kids playing soccer, and 10 percent of that playing youth lacrosse. That’s fine by us. Dramatic growth, for growth’s sake, is not necessarily a healthy thing. We need to grow responsibly.
For more: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2011-01-20/sports/bs-sp-stenersen-qa-0120-20110120_1_lacrosse-steve-stenersen-concussions/3