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Gender Stereotypes in Lacrosse

Oswego State women’s lacrosse facing against Brockport.

Lacrosse is gaining popularity all over the world but the game looks different depending on the gender of who’s playing. Men are allowed to be more dominant while women are forced to take the safer route of things, which isn’t fair at all. Women know what they’re getting themselves into, so let them play like the men.

The most obvious difference is the equipment players use. For the men, most have helmets, mouth guards, shoulder and elbow pads and gloves. For the women, there’s a lack of protection. Most female players are required to wear goggles and mouth guards while the helmets and protective gear are reserved for goalies.

The main reason for this is because men are allowed to body check. With this comes the constant threat of getting pumped, whacked or poked with a stick. There are rules that will disqualify a player if they were too violent while checking but legal checking can still cause an injury. Contact is allowed from the shoulders to the waist of whichever player has possession of the ball.

In the women’s game, things are different. No body checks or stick checks that hit the player are allowed and if it happens, a penalty is called. The player with possession must have their stick below their shoulders and the other team can hit their sticks with yours.

“I kind of equate it (women’s side) more to basketball, where the officials will call fouls, but it’s stick close to the head area and that’s the real reason why there are so many differences, just for safety purposes,” said Michigan High School Lacrosse Coaches Association Hall of Fame Chairman Mike Costello. “On the men’s side, there’s more physicality, there’s more contact. I equate that to hockey.”

So why are the men able to be physical and have contact with each other but the women aren’t? Probably because sports are meant to be manly and women aren’t supposed to get their hands dirty and tackle each other. It’s a main reason why football is a male dominated sport. If women tackle each other to the ground, it’s not ladylike. If men do it, it’s acceptable and entertaining.

Another key difference is that men are allowed to have pockets in their sticks. Men’s sticks have moved from the traditional route of stringing and traded it in for mesh netting. The mesh forms a soft pocket that makes it easier to hold the ball even with checking attempts by opposing players. The pockets used in the men’s games would be illegal in the women’s games.

The women keep the traditional style of thick shooting strings called leathers that run  lengthwise. Leathers tend to be tied tighter so there’s less of a pocket. Since the mesh that men use is paired with a shallower sidewall, ball handling is more difficult for the women. Once a woman scores a goal, they must immediately drop their stick so the official can perform a stick check to see if there was a pocket. The men don’t have to deal with since they’re allowed to have pockets.

So men are allowed to have pockets, which makes ball handling easier, but they have the risk of getting hit with a stick. Women don’t have that risk, so their sticks make it more difficult to keep possession of the ball. Why not make the playing field the same for both men and women? Let women have pockets in their sticks, give them the same protective gear as the men and allow them to body check.

Make the playing rules equal for both genders and let women play like the men.

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