We saw it happen. Like Big Foot we'd heard the tales but never seen it in person.
In 2016 the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) and US Lacrosse issued some guidelines that are being rolled out in two buckets. The first was a series of rules impacting all boys sticks starting in 2016. (Click here for those changes) The second bucket won't be enforced until 2018 but these rules are being rolled out to stop the use of sticks that unfairly keep the ball from dislodging.
If you apply the 2018 required measurements to the 'stick in question' the 1.25" and 3" measurements are fine. Instead, the issue was at 5" up where the stick does not comply with MINIMUM stick width requirement of 3.5"-4" in the front and 3.5" at back.
Technically, the 5" requirement is not official yet - and won't be until 2018 BUT we saw why that measurement is important when the ball got STUCK. The narrow width at 5" made the mesh pucker just below the shooting strings - and the ball got jammed.
You can check your stick with a ruler. We got all CSI about it and marked up the industry approved visual with green guidelines, printed it out and compared it to the stick. (printable PDF version here). You can see from the photos that the gap at 5" is clearly visible. This stick was only 3.25" wide when compared to the 3.5'-4' guideline.
It's important to comply with these changes in rules for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the safety of the players.
'How so' you say?
Roll forward the tape. If the ball is unnaturally secured in your stick, it won't be dislodged by a good and fair check from a defenseman, which results in that player seeing fewer takeaways per game.
And then what happens?
Logically, we'll then see a change in that player's behavior. Inevitably, this will lead to an escalation in the physicality of the game that in itself is directly against the spirit of what US Lacrosse is doing with it's player development models and concussion work.
So this is not just about avoiding getting called for using an illegal crosse, this is about maintaining the integrity of the way the game is played.
It's not quite spring lacrosse season, but a leisurely look at your equipment now might be a good idea. YML2's review of all the changes for 2016-2018 can be found here.
Why? 'Cause Yo Momma said so.