Photo Credit: Garret James/ Vancouver Stealth
The freedom of choice for NLL officials is over. As we saw in this weekend’s preseason games, the stripes are now required by the league to wear helmets while officiating games this season.
In years past, it was up to the individual to wear or not wear head protection. Since injury to box lacrosse officials has never been a huge issue, and you know, being tough and all, just about 99% of the NLL referees opted out of wearing the helmet.
The NHL made progress with this years ago, requiring all officials to wear a helmet, but that seems justified with the speed of the game along with all of the jumping, immediate stopping and the fact the guy is on skates. The reality is, lacrosse is a game played around the head area, shots can take crazy ricochets in box lacrosse and the ref standing 15 feet from the goal is smack dab in the danger zone.
It’s a liability to the league and you can’t blame the powers at be for the zebras now being squeezed into shiny black new lids. The crews will not be wearing a face mask as it will hinder the use of a whistle, but we are already seeing the introduction of half-visors for eye and face protection.
It also looks like Bauer is the choice this year for headgear as Under Armour doesn’t make hockey lids yet.
Here’s my hopeful prediction of the year: the NLL will implement helmet cams.
I can’t be certain that this will happen, but it’s almost 2015, time to slap a GoPro on their and give us a look at all of the action from the floor!
Sure they might still look out of place, but you can’t ever hate on safety. Referee helmets are a thing, so get used to them because they’re here to stay and you can expect them to start making their way to box lacrosse games everywhere.