“Change the Cage” And the Mask Situation in Canada

If you are a lacrosse fan on Twitter there is no doubt you have seen the #ChangeTheCage hashtag and movement by now. In Canada, players used to be able to wear whatever masks they wanted. This is from the Western Lacrosse Association to midget league.

Apparently they were worried about helmets popping off because the chin straps could be a bit loose. So the Canadian Lacrosse Association, for supposed safety reasons, decided to change to a new facemask. However, it appears very little testing was done on these masks and injuries are popping up left and right with faces getting cut.

They did the tests for hockey, and hockey is so much different than lacrosse in the case that lacrosse has sticks in the air and in hockey on the ice. It gets dangerous because on a hit, the head is so tightly in the mask it has no where to go. On impact, that means the head is absorbing the hit and we are seeing cuts, but a concussion risk could also be higher.

None of the players like it. So why are these masks still being used? Players have petitioned and tried to get the CLA to allow the old facemasks again.

The problem? Any time there is a hit, since the mask is so tight on the chin, the chin is impacted, as explained so well in this video below.

Someone started a Twitter account called @ChangeTheCage, and I got in touch with them. They sent us this statement.

After seeing a friend quit the game because he had been cut by his face mask on the bridge of his nose for the third time in a year, I decided to find a way to organize the voice of Canadian lacrosse players so that we can work with the Canadian Lacrosse Association, face mask manufacturers and Canadian Standards Association to:
1) allow players to wear face masks that do not increase the likelihood of injury (very short term 2-4 weeks) 
2) develop face masks that protects players properly while meeting the standards of the CSA (6-10 months)

The @ChangeTheCage Twitter account, Facebook page and ChangeTheCage@gmail.com address were created on May 5th to support the communication required to meet these goals. 

Unfortunately the simple solution of allowing players to use the old straight cages similar to those worn by National Lacrosse League players is one that can’t be solved overnight. The CLA and CSA need proper feedback and evidence that they can use to answer all questions associated with the issue. 
It is EXTREMELY important that all injured players complete the CLA Head Injury Incident Report that they released on May 9th with the Technical Bulletin they posted on their website at the same time. This will provide the information needed to make proper decisions moving forward. Posting photos on Twitter and attacking the CLA is doing absolutely no good and not helping the situation. Here is the quote from that May 9th technical bulletin that proves the point: 

” 5. The CLA can make recommendations to the CSA technical sub-committee for lacrosse 

facemasks. In order to do so, we cannot approach the agency with tweets, e mails or phone 
calls regarding safety concerns. We need to compile objective and meaningful information.
For this reason, the CLA requires that, if there is an injury to the face area, an incident
report form must be submitted. We will not forward any other information to the CSA.”
As of around 3:00pm, Tuesday May 27th, the CLA has only received THREE of these reports, so all players who have been injured need to complete the report and send it to the CLA. Send a copy to ChangeTheCage@gmail.com .
The link to create a report is here.
Twitter has been rampant with pictures of faces getting cut from the masks and complaints, so obviously there is a problem. But Change the Cage is right, it needs to be an organized attempt and not just Twitter pictures. It has to be organized.
So, here is a collection of complaints in an organized fashion from some of the bigger names in the sport.

The CLA did release a statement about this, which can be read here. What they had to say included “The CLA does not design, manufacture, test, approve nor certify helmets or facemasks;  the CLA requires that players use only Canadian Standards Association (CSA) approved  products. The CLA and CSA are two different organizations.”

“The CLA has no say in which facemasks get approved.”  So then the other day this started circulating on Twitter from a report about the CSA.

Things aren’t going to change unless there are enough people fighting, and while people are obviously willing, it needs to be organized. Change the Cage seems to be doing a good job collecting details and sending reports out, so it’s time to work together to get this safety issue resolved.

Players are getting injured. That’s the bottom line, and it’s not okay. So who is going to do something about it?