high school sports

Boys Lacrosse Community, US Lacrosse, Urges NFHS to Change Risk Classification

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It’s the latest in a conversation of what sports can play and when: last season, girls and boys lacrosse players in Connecticut missed their spring seasons as the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded. Now, the boys lacrosse community is worried they'll miss a second season while others get to play.

“One of the things that we did when we developed our guidance is we did not develop it through a gender lens,” said Ann Kitt Carpenetti, VP of lacrosse operations for US Lacrosse.

US Lacrosse is trying to change the National Federation of State High School Association's classification of boys lacrosse.

“We're just advocating for consideration of information that we've been able to acquire through our work,” said Carpenetti.

That change could affect a state like Connecticut significantly.

As it stands, the NFHS classifies boys lacrosse as a high risk sport, while girls lacrosse is moderate. Connecticut has leaned on NFHS classifications when outlining return to play plans. High risk sports like football and wrestling have been put on pause.

Recently the NCAA reclassified both mens and women's lacrosse as moderate risk.

“You know we're grouped with rugby, football and wrestling and lacrosse is listed as a contact sport but there's not a lot of contact,” said Dan Clark, who is a parent of two lacrosse players.

Clark was one of more than 2,000 people in Connecticut to co-sign a letter from US lacrosse to the NFHS last week.

In it US lacrosse outlined guidance from their own sports science and safety committee as to why they say boys lacrosse is moderate risk: They played successfully this summer, it's outdoors, athletes wear gloves and there's minimal sustained contact.

The NFHS  says girls and boys are classified differently because the boys rules allow for more contact, but that their sports medicine advisory committee will discuss the classification when they meet in January.

“We still are not super clear on an exact level of risk, but what we are learning that where kids are not engaged mental and socioemotional health is at risk,” said Karissa Niehoff NFHS executive director.

The NFHS classifications are guidelines, the ultimate decision of what's played and when comes down to the state level. In Connecticut, all youth sports are on pause until at least January 19th.

You can take a look at US Lacrosse's return to play guidelines here.

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