Metal cleats in high school
In case you haven’t heard by now, the National High School Federation (Federation for short) has ruled that metal cleats will be allowed in high school softball beginning this year. The Federation is the ruling body for HS sports, not to be confused with ruling body for a large group of planets on Star Trek.
I haven’t heard the particulars on why the rule was changed. Maybe someone who reads this blog has the actual answer. A few of us were talking tonight and I speculated that this was sort of a Title IX issue. Metal cleats have been allowed in HS baseball at least since the days I was playing, so maybe this is just a way of making things more even. Then again, do the boys have to wear face cages on their helmets?
In any case, I think that metal cleats are a bad idea. First there’s the safety issue for fielders. As I’ve mentioned before, some are taught to block access to the base with their legs. Having a baserunner coming into a leg with metal cleats is not exactly a good idea.
That’s not the worst of it, though. The big risk is catching a cleat and spraining an ankle — or possibly popping a knee or breaking a leg. Before you think I’m a total wimp about this, I just heard a story about a male youth player in metal cleats breaking his ankle trying to stop and go back to the previous base.
The parent telling the story said she’s heard that metal cleats are fine on a well-manicured field. But how many of us get to play on those? I’ve watched high school games on fields that were a risk no matter what kind of shoes you wore, much less high-grip cleats. My teams have certainly competed on fields that were even worse. It just doesn’t seem like a good idea.
Especially when you consider that the #1 injury among young female athletes is a torn ACL. So now you’re going to add in equipment that makes it even easier to pop that ACL. It just doesn’t make sense.
It’ll be interesting to see whether the number of injuries goes up this year. And if so, whether the Federation gives any thought to going back to a ban on metal cleats. Stay tuned.