That was the gist of a headline I read on The Atlantic this morning.
At first blush, I thought the commentary by Edward Tenner on a recent NYT report was overreaching a bit. How could helmets, which protect the head, make sports more hazardous. But as I read on, I saw the point he was trying to make.
In certain situations, helmets may give an athlete a false sense of security. With their noggin firmly secured in a near-indestructible plastic casing, the theory goes, some contact sport athletes might deliver hits they’d otherwise shy away from.
The NYT article focuses on women’s lacrosse, where helmets are currently only worn by goalkeepers. In fact, the other players are banned from wearing helmets. And many of the sport’s competitors would like to keep it that way.
But the crusaders are facing an uphill battle because the idea that players engage in riskier behavior when they wear helmets, well, that’s difficult to prove. Most of the evidence presented is anecdotal – like the fact that hockey and football hits became noticeably more vicious after the professional leagues instituted helmet policies.