DIGHTON-REHOBOTH, Mass. (WPRI) — A frightening injury during a high school field hockey game on Thursday has some officials calling for increased safety measures.
A Dighton-Rehoboth athlete suffered significant facial and dental injuries after being hit by a ball in a match against Swampscott. But what made it a rare scenario is that the player who took the shot that injured the girl was a boy.
Under Massachusetts’ equal rights amendment, there are provisions for males to participate in female sports as long as the school does not offer a male alternative.
“We respect and understand the complexity and concerns that exist regarding student safety. However, student safety has not been a successful defense to excluding students of one gender from participating on teams of the opposite gender,” the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) said in a statement Friday.
Swampscott Public Schools’ athletic director, Kelly Wolff, offered sympathy for the injured player, while also defending her athlete’s participation in the sport.
“In our MIAA Tournament field hockey game Thursday, a player on the visiting team suffered an unfortunate injury on a legal play after being struck by a shot that deflected off her teammate’s stick,” Wolff said.
“We are sorry to see any player get hurt and wish the Dighton-Rehoboth player a speedy recovery,” she continued. “The Swampscott player who took the shot is a 4-year varsity player and co-captain who, per MIAA rules, has the exact same right to participate as any player on any team.”
Dighton-Rehoboth Superintendent Bill Runey also weighed in on the matter.
“There are very few male field hockey teams at this point, so if a male wants to play field hockey, then he plays on the girls team,” he said.
Rather than blame the student, Runey said he was stunned at how little protective headwear is required in field hockey, adding that this incident highlights the need for new safety protocols.
“The easiest thing to do would be to change the guidelines in terms of requiring protective headwear that has a full facemask, much like softball,” Runey explained.
The injured player was released from the hospital Friday, but reportedly still has a long road ahead of her in terms of dental recovery.