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Buzz: Playing it safe or going too far?

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Sam Gardner

Sam Gardner is a general assignment writer for FOXSports.com. Originally from Orlando, Fla., he previously covered the Orlando Magic for FOX Sports Florida and has also covered the NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Finals and MLB playoffs. Follow him on Twitter.

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Concussion awareness is a hot-button topic in football these days, but in one New Jersey town, the growing measures to ensure player safety are spilling over into other sports as well.

According to NJ.com, schools in Princeton will become the first in the state to require that athletes playing soccer, girls lacrosse or field hockey wear protective headgear during games. The mandate will be placed only on sixth graders this fall but will eventually apply to all athletes through grade 12.

“We’re very aware that for players in all sports there’s a risk of head injuries and we’re just trying to do whatever we can to prevent them,” Timothy Quinn, president of the Princeton school board, told the site.

Unlike a football helmet, the helmets used by Princeton schools will be soft and will cover the temples, forehead and top of the head, and the school board will foot the bill for the lids, which can cost up to $70 each.

However, even though the cost of the new gear won’t be passed on to students, not everyone is convinced it’s a good idea.

Barbara Greiger-Parker, the president of the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey, told NJ.com that she wasn't aware of any scientific studies that prove that these particular helmets actually reduce concussion risk, and Robb Rehberg, the athletic trainer at the Center for Concussion Care in Summit, N.J., expressed concern that the new headgear might encourage more physicality on the field.

“Adding headgear could potentially give athletes a false sense of protection that would make them play more aggressively,” Rehberg told NJ.com.

Change is rarely popular among the establishment, especially when it comes to sports and, more particularly, player safety. But given how much we’ve learned in recent years about the long-term effects of brain injuries, I can’t fathom a case where looking after the well-being of athletes is ever a bad thing.

That said, the initiative in Princeton is already getting some pushback, and I suspect the mob of detractors more concerned with glamour than practicality will only grow as the new rule expands to older students.

Now, for some links:

• New Mexico football fans raised $2,000 for a New Mexico State fan/Iraq War veteran who should have won the money in a contest at an NMSU game.

• Sergei Fedorov is reportedly making a comeback at age 43, in Russia.

• Samford basketball added a 7-year-old to its basketball roster:

• Fired as manager earlier this year, Charlie Manuel has reportedly been offered another position within the organization.

• Another former Philly coach, ex-76ers head man Doug Collins, says he's done coaching for good.

• Washington will wear these lids Saturday against Oregon:

• When asked about Tim Tebow, Jags owner Shad Khan says "We need a lot of good players." So you're saying there's a chance?

• David Price says he expects to be traded this offseason.

• The Red Sox shotgunned a bunch of Budweisers after they eliminated the Rays. America:

• Sammy Sosa wants to be friends with the Cubs again someday.

• Multi-millionaire NBA player Matt Bonner bought himself… a new Chevy Impala?

• Pittsburgh Penguins ice girl has technical difficulties:

• The Orlando Magic want a D-League team in Jacksonville.

• Did the Pirates give away their gameplan for facing Adam Wainwright to the media?

• Via Guyism, sad Pirates fan has a sad:

• At Grantland, Kirk Goldsberry introduces a new way to understand the NBA's best scorers.

• Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers said his team needs to retaliate more but then backed off that statement after catching plenty of public backlash.

• Andre Drummond has a new free throw technique:

• The first transgender NCAA basketball player wrote about his experience.

• Maryland got shut out by FSU — was it because the offensive line was tipping its plays?

• Jose Reyes is kind of a jerk:

• Barry Larkin says he is opening to managing the Reds, but hasn't heard from them yet.

• But Cincinnati has reportedly spoken with Paul O'Neill about the job.

• Al Harrington pulled the chair on Andray Blatche:

• Rajon Rondo said he tried to study Doc Rivers because he may want to coach after his playing days are over.

• Dan Snyder's attorney said Snyder shouldn't have used the word never with regard to changing the Redskins' name.

• Here’s how the Milwaukee Bucks’ new home court came to be:

• A Clemson OL has suffered a career-ending shoulder injury.

• Conference realignment has some coaches feeling very confused.

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