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National high school sports rules that require field hockey players to wear eye protection while playing and practicing may be causing more injuries than they prevent, according to a report in the November 4, 2011, Virginian-Pilot.

The article highlights incidents at Frank W. Cox High School in Virginia Beach and Lakeland High School in Suffolk, VA, in which cuts resulted from the athletes being hit on their goggles. Those injuries and others across the United States have raised questions about the value of the eye protection mandate from the National Federation of State High School Associations. Since their rule took effect at the beginning of 2011, the website has logged 75 reports of eye protection-related injuries, 9 of them from Virginia.

While the NCAA, USA Field Hockey and the International Hockey Federation allow the use of eye protection, the governing bodies do not require the equipment. Specific concerns are that wearing eye protection forces a player to look down for the ball, limits peripheral vision and the goggles have sharp edges.

As experienced Virginia personal injury attorneys, my colleagues and I have highlighted numerous ways in which sports equipment can cause injuries. If a piece of equipment is to blame, legal action could be brought against a manufacturer or perhaps a regulatory body or venue.

Steps have been taken in Virginia in recent months to improve the safety of baseball, including a ban on high performance aluminum bats.

In one sports product liability case recently handled by our firm, the manufacturer and the seller of a baseball pitching machine had improperly designed their product in such a way as to cause a facial injury to the athlete using the equipment.


About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.


  1. Gravatar for P

    Girls are also colliding A LOT, sometimes head to head due to tunnel-vision from looking straight down. Whoever made this rule never played field hockey.

  2. Gravatar for Kevin Duffan
    Kevin Duffan

    It certainly seems possible, if not probable that wearing goggles would limit an athlete's vision, which of course is not a good thing in a fast-paced sport like field hockey. Field hockey is similar to soccer in many ways, and as a semi-serious recreational soccer player, I would not want to wear goggles during my games.

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