Wayne Levy 0

Eliminate body checking from minor hockey

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The following is the text from chapter # 66 of Bob McCowan's book, The 100 Greatest Hockey Arguments, with Bob's permission. After watching my young son's hockey games, I couldn't agree more. Do you agree If so, then please sign the petition and forward to others. For almost as long as kids have been playing hockey, people have been debating whether or not they should be allowed to bodycheck. But to me it all comes down to how you think of minor hockey. If you think of 10 or 11 year olds as being part of a professional development stream, then of course they should hit. Why wait to introduce them to what they'll need to know one day to earn a living in the NHL Let them knock each other's brains around,just like their heroes on television. Of course,if we want to get realistic about what minor hockey really is, especially at the house league level, there's no argument for bodychecking at all. And yet Hockey Canada allows kids to bodycheck at the age of 11, and in some parts of the country it's still endorsed at age nine. I'm sure there are people who sit back and wonder what damage 11 year old kids can do by running into one another. Well, the evidence suggests it's significant. In 2006,the Canadian Medical Association Journal published a study that suggested that the number of injuries, including severe ones like concussions and fractures,more than doubled among 11 year olds after bodychecking was introduced. At 11 years of age, most kids are still working on their skating and learning how to do different things with the puck. The last thing they need is to worry about some kid-usually a bigger kid-running them over. Bodychecking in minor hockey tends to be a really great experience for two or three kids on every team, and a terrible one for all the rest. And those kids who enjoy it are the bigger kids, the ones whose growth spurts have come early. They're often the same ones who might enjoy pushing someone around a schoolyard. But for the majority of kids,it's something they want no part of. So the only reason to force it on them is to prepare them for a future that probably doesn't exist. What proponents of bodychecking fail to recognize is that 99.9 percent of kids who play the game are simply there for recreation. It's not about making the NHL. I mean, they can dream-but so what Most kids who play hockey do so into their early teens, step away from the game for a few years and then maybe they go back to it later in life as adults. By allowing bodychecking, you are catering to the notion that minor hockey players are all someday going to be pros and therefore must be trained in the pro version of the game from the first moment they step on the ice. There's no need for kids to play an adult version of the game. And the irony is that most adult beer-league hockey doesn't allow bodychecking. And why is that Because people get hurt when there's hitting and no one wants to take that risk when they're 30 years old. Yet we're willing to subject our kids to what we as adults refuse to endure The only kids who need to learn to bodycheck are the ones who graduate from minor hockey into the competitive streams, which includes everything from the lower levels of Junior C and D hockey right up to the major junior system that feeds the NHL. Those kids should be learning to bodycheck by age 14. At the triple-A level,for the elite kids who look like they've got a realistic chance of having some kind of future in the sport through their teens. I can see allowing it at 13, but that's it. Which is basically what they do in Quebec right now, and somehow that province manages to produce NHL players. Some of them even become stars. By waiting to introduce bodychecking until age 14,you'll drive fewer players away from the sport at a young age when all they want is fun. And you're still giving the competitive kids plenty of time to learn the physical game that they'll need to master as they climb up the development ladder. All of this flies in the face of that absurd argument from some parents and coaches,the one about kids being done a disservice if they aren't taught to hit-or absorb hits-at a very young age. That somehow we're endangering our children down the line because we haven't schooled them early enough in the arts of giving and taking hits. What a bunch of garbage. It's the nonsensical, dinosauric crap that hockey people come up with all the time to justify their own beliefs. There's no sport where contact is as important as football, yet lots of professional players don't begin playing tackle football until they're 14 years old. Do football players need to be hitting each other at 9 and 10 years old in order to develop into professionals some day Of course not. And in hockey that's even more true, because the most important skills kids need to develop have nothing to do with hitting. They are,in this order: skating,skating and more skating. Followed by puck handling and,lastly,checking. If some kids never learn to bodycheck, so what Most will never need to. Let's let the kids play the game. Let them enjoy themselves. Let them score goals and make rushes with the puck. Bodychecking can wait. And for most, it can wait forever.


Wayne Levy


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