The rules of the game: Cross country bans non-prescription sunglasses

October 28, 2009 — by Cullan McChesney

Any optometrist or pediatrician will agree that eye protection against the sun is crucial to maintaining good eyesight through out life. So why do Central Coast Section (CCS) cross country rules ban non-prescription sunglasses in competition?

Much of it has to do with what could be considered a strategic search and elimination for anything end everything that gives competitors an advantage. But what makes sunglasses so different from the shoes that competitors wear? Some competitors wear better shoes than others, so by CCS logic, all runners should compete barefoot to level the playing field.

That may not be rational, but how is it different from eye protection? Sunglasses may give an advantage over competitors by allowing them to see better and keep he glare and dust out of their eyes, but is it right to deny competitors protection from solar radiation? According to MayoClinic.com, “UV radiation from the sun can damage not only the skin of your eyelids but also the clear outer parts of the eye—the cornea and conjunctiva.”

Many competitors also feel the same way. Boys’ cross country captain Joe Stevens, who is rarely seen without a pair of his signature Oakley shades, said, ” The ban on sunglasses is totally stupid. Athletes should definitely be allowed to protect their eyes from the sun and dust. I honestly can’t think of any good reason for the ban.”

In a sport with so many variables, runners say it hardly seems rational of CCS to eliminate a small performance advantage that makes a big impact on eye health.

“Sure, maybe it’s a slight advantage to athletes with sunglasses, but certainly not a relevant one,” said Stevens.

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