It’s important to remember why kids play sports: We want them to have fun as well as learn lessons about physical fitness, the value of teamwork and the rewards of sacrifice. We want them to learn about how to handle winning and losing when nothing really important is at stake.

Sports injuries that cause serious, lifelong consequences undermine all of those goals, and everything we can do to prevent them should come before any other considerations.

This is the lens with which we should view the debate over safety goggles in girls field hockey that is playing out in high schools around the state.

Goggles are relatively inexpensive and they could prevent serious, irreversible eye injuries. Requiring them looks like a no-brainer, but the idea is controversial.

Critics say that the goggles affect a player’s peripheral vision and result in collisions that could lead to head injuries. This is not a good argument against goggles, however.

It’s not worth risking a permanent eye injury to prevent a serious brain injury when both can be prevented with better equipment. If hockey players are really at risk of running into each other and knocking heads, they should wear helmets with face shields.

Most middle-aged adults can remember a time when professional hockey players skated without any head gear at all. In those days, broken teeth and concussions were just part of the game. Our grandparents may recall when football was played with leather helmets — or when 24 college players died in a five-year period beginning in 1905.

Today, more complete understanding of head injuries is changing modern football from the NFL down to the high school level, as shown by a new law signed by Gov. LePage this month.

When a potential for injury is discovered, there are only two responses: One is better equipment and the other is changing the rules to protect players.

Those are the steps that ought to be taken with field hockey.

The Maine Principal’s Association is right to require eye protection. If coaches are seeing more head injuries, then other steps should be taken. Getting rid of eye protection would be a step in the wrong direction.