Parker Gilbert 0

Reduce Concussions in Girls and Boys Hockey from Illegal Checks

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Too many concussions are occurring in youth hockey as a result of illegal checks that subsequently go unpunished and undeterred. Checking is illegal in girls hockey at all levels and in boys until they are a Bantam. The threat of injury is greater to a player being checked who is not expecting it because it is illegal. The New York Times reported that 30% of concussions in women's hockey were from illegal checks. More is being done to protect NFL players than youth hockey players.

Injuries from illegal checks can be reduced!

Current USA Hockey rules can be summarized as follows:

USA Hockey Official Playing rules have a minimum penalty of 2 + 10 for Head Contact, Checking From Behind, Boarding and Charging. Depending on the severity the referee has the discretion to call a 5 and 10 or 5 and game for these infractions. There is also rule 411 which provides for Progressive Suspensions for Repeat Offenders.

The rules give the referee broad interpretation of discipline for illegal checks but the rule falls short to address checks at levels where checking is illegal. Additionally, the current rules and referee enforcement are not acting as a deterrent to the minority of repeat offenders who are injuring defenseless players. The aggressor gets their 2 to 12 minutes of penalty time, while the victim is injured for weeks or longer - there are sadly too many examples in this regard. The sport is riddled with cheap shots and bad sportsmanship by players, coaches and parents.

This petition is to get grassroots support for USA hockey to not only toughen the penalties for checking in no-checking hockey but also retrain the referees to protect player safety and not player hooliganism.

Proposed rule changes include:

a. dangerous checks and checks from behind are an automatic 5 minute penalty, game misconduct, and 1 game suspension

b. Second offense is 3 game suspension

c. Third offense is remainder of season or minimum 10 games. A third infraction player starts next year on probation and subject to immediate second offense suspension.

d.These checks are an automatic call not open to interpretation and are not appealable. A subtle check and dangerous check are easy to distinguish between.

e. Retrain referees to make this call and not be afraid of it. They are the gatekeeper to safe and enjoyable play and that should be paramount.

f. Establish easy online system to report infraction and minimize paperwork. All coaches will have visibility to offenders.

Tougher rules and enforcement will deter players, encourage coaches to coach the game properly, and empower referees.


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