By Michael M.
In 2013, Hockey Alberta announced the elimination of “body checking” in the Pee Wee division beginning in the 2013-2014 hockey season (www.hockeyalberta.ca). The move came after the board of directors had established a Body Checking Review Committee the previous year. This committee heavily researched the effects body checking had on Pee Wee aged (11-12 years old) hockey players (www.hockeyalberta.ca). Since the move by Hockey Alberta, other provinces have followed in their footsteps. Most recently, Ontario banning body checking for all midget “A” (the lowest level of midget hockey) players and Quebec doing the same. (www.cbc.ca).
As you probably know, taking body checking out of certain levels of minor hockey is not everyone’s favorable decision. Many parents, players, coaches and experts of the sport believe that eliminating body checking at these levels can actually have worse effects later on. A common theory is that if players do not have experience checking at the Pee Wee age level, when they grow older becoming bigger and stronger they will not know how to properly deliver a check, nor receive one. Although this is only a theory, and can only be studied years after the rule change, it does seem to have some practicality to it.
Surprisingly to myself, I somewhat agree with the rule change however I can see why some people may not like it. Hockey Alberta’s number one priority was the safety towards the players, and since body checking is the number one cause of injury in minor hockey, I understand their logic for this change.“Bodychecking, the most common cause of trauma in hockey, accounts for 86% of all injuries among players 9-15 years old.” (Marchie, A., & Cusimano, M.D, P.1). Even though I am a fan of the physicality hockey can bring it is hard to argue with these facts. Hockey Alberta also ensured that Pee Wee coaches will be required to take a checking skills program and are encouraged to teach safe checking skills in a practice environment (www.hockeyalberta.ca). This would definitely reassure some parents who may be skeptical of their child not learning how to properly check.
On the other hand, should it not be the choice of the parent/child if he/she wants to participate in contact hockey? By a small portion of Minor Hockey players being injured because of body contact, is it ruining it for the other players who are perfectly fine with body checking at any level? No one is forced to put their child in contact hockey. If you feel your child is not safe that should not affect the opportunity of other players to miss out on body checking skill development.
As mentioned above, time will only tell if the rule change will help prevent youth from being injured and not just be denying the inevitable. Until then, regardless of what myself and others might think, I am in full support for the change as it is solely for the protection of youth. Putting my personal beliefs and experiences aside, I, like Hockey Alberta and other Minor Hockey associations want nothing but the best for the players and their development.
Thanks for reading!
- HOCKEY ALBERTA TO ELIMINATE BODY CHECKING FROM ALL CATEGORIES OF PEEWEE. (n.d.). Retrieved October 27, 2015.
2. Marchie, A., & Cusimano, M. D. (2003). Bodychecking and concussions in ice hockey: Should our youth pay the price? Canadian Medical Association.Journal, 169(2), 124-8. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy.hil.unb.ca/docview/204976404?accountid=14611
3. News, C. (2015, March 11). Hockey Quebec expands ban on body checking. Retrieved October 27, 2015.