6 pointsEddie, I think removing body checking at 12U has amplified the parent paranoia, and in some areas hindered the kids development. I understand the thought process behind removing it 8 or so years ago, but respectfully disagree with it. It's better for players to learn and acclimate themselves to body-checking at a younger age, where both first and second year players are still relatively small. At bantam, the size discrepancy is much larger. You can have a first year player at 4'11 and 85lbs go up against a second year player who is 5'10 and 160lbs. That's the nature of bantam hockey. When you factor in the first year player having no experience with checking, specifically lacking good habits to properly protect themselves, then things can get dangerous. They should consider reintroducing body-checking back into 12U, however, I fear they're more likely to remove it from 14U.
3 pointsSo is this all part of a larger question about whether kids should be allowed to play contact sports at all? I mean, hockey seems on the surface to be less damaging to the body than, for instance, football. What about the issues with repeated blows to the head from heading the ball in soccer? Where is the proper balance between the physical play that is such a big part of the sport we all love and protection against injuries? For my part, checking is a substantial part of the game and it is worth the risk of injuries to those who choose to play it. However, I also believe that there are a great many coaches - probably the vast majority, actually - who spend little time on teaching fundamentally correct checking. There are also plenty (though, I think, fewer) who passively encourage needlessly violent and/or dirty hits by not responding to their players when they see those hits. There are organizations in every city famous for not teaching checking properly. I think checking is important, but I also think we as coaches and parents need to do a far better job of teaching the hows (and, crucially, WHYs) of checking, and enforcing good sportsmanship and respect for the opposing players. The inevitable end result is going to be phasing out checking for all but the elite players. This writing is on the wall. We all play in beer leagues, where body checking is illegal, and we all know that hockey is still an awesome game in non-checking environments, but I still think that eliminating body checking for most youth players will be a sad outcome. (Again, my inner biases at work.)
2 pointsThanks for the input. I appreciate your point of view. So, let me ask you a question. You say that injuries have decreased in PeeWee's once checking was removed, and this makes sense. However, since it was removed from PeeWee's, what effect did this have on Bantams? Did it go up? I would bet it has. And, if we take checking out of Bantam's, I am am sure injuries will go down there, but I would also assume it will go up in Midgets. My point is, the longer you delay the learning process, the worse the effect will be in the older age groups (you are just creating a snowball effect), it will go up and get worse due to larger, stronger players not knowing the correct way to play. Your plan would also create a barrier to development for any kid that wants to take up hockey after PeeWee's. A kid is going to play house league (or even single A under your plan) 1st year Bantam (which is non-checking), then says, "mom i want to tryout for PPE". What happens then? All I hear on this board is that, "my kid wanted to give PPE a shot, so I said yes". How bad are they going to do coming from a non-checking league, going up against players who have been playing at a high level, and have been checking! That's just a tryout nightmare waiting to happen. I do respect your opinion, and I am all for a non-checking house league (if that's what the kid wants to do). However, we all know that this discussion is not about what the kids want at all. Thanks for input though, appreciate the point of view.
2 pointsMy view on checking has changed. I used to have the same view mentioned above that checking should be brought back to Peewee but I've been swayed by the data more recently. Before I get labelled a softie, I'll give some background. When I played, body-checking was legal at the peewee age which was ages 12 and 13 back then. I grew up in a small Northern Ontario town, playing on a peewee travel team when I was 12 that played local games (i.e. when not traveling to tourneys) in the bantam house league - which meant I was playing in a body checking league against 15 year olds when I was 12. My oldest son is now a senior in high school, but played regular shifts on his varsity team as a freshmen, meaning he was going up against players 3 or 4 years older than him then. My youngest is an 05 who just completed his first year of checking without issue. The point of giving my background is that my stance didn't change due to some fear of my kids reaching body checking age or that I was scared of the unknown as a parent who hasn't played the game before. I learned body checking at a young age (I played competitively at decently high levels through junior hockey until age 21) and both my kids have gone through it. But, I'm a scientist for my day job and I've recently looked at some of the big studies that have reported how injuries have decreased in peewee hockey players once body contact was removed from that level. Some of these studies have very large datasets and it's pretty convincing. It took awhile to reconcile the data with my own initial thoughts that 'I know how hockey should be played and body checking is vital'. I won't post the studies here, but you can go to Pubmed website and search body checking youth hockey and bunch will pop up. Carolyn Emery is an author on a few of the big ones. So, I'm no longer for bringing body checking back to peewee. I'm also coming around to getting it out of the lower level leagues. The reality is that the vast majority of youth hockey players are not going to play D1 or high levels of junior hockey, never mind professional hockey beyond that. They are headed to playing in non-contact beer league hockey and will hopefully get a lot of enjoyment from the game with decades of recreational play. I see the merit in getting it out of most youth leagues, but body checking would remain in certain leagues for more elite players that are keeping the avenue open for making a career out of it (AAA or high level AA in youth hockey at bantam and above, D1/juniors, professional). There's some issues in how to implement this policy (i.e. how does a kid who isn't playing in a body checking league make the transition to a more elite league if they are a late bloomer), but the data indicates it's the right thing to figure out.
1 pointCall me a cynic, but here is how I see it happening. They will take it out of the lower levels, then a few years later some spoiled Little Johnny is going to come along and get cut from a team and Loud Mouth Hockey Mom is going to pitch a fit that it is unfair because her kid is being unfairly discriminated against and is going to cause such a stink that they are going to do away with it for everyone. Sorry to be such a downer, it's just that parents ruin everything eventually.
1 pointYes, thanks - that was one of the studies I was mentioning. There was a period of time of where Quebec had taken hitting out of peewee while other provinces such as Alberta kept it in at peewee. Emery did a large study of injuries (over 1000 players in each province) and found that injuries were 3-fold less in peewee in Quebec (no body contact) and the injury rate in bantam in Quebec was about the same as it what it was in peewee in Alberta, which is what LLB summarized above. If you want to see some of these studies, here they are: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/186037 (original study comparing Quebec to Alberta when they had different body checking ages) https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/51/24/1767.long (looks at the change specific to Alberta after they moved checking to bantam) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3153513/ (looks at whether introducing body checking at younger ages lessens injuries compared to older ages) I had the chance to go to the Summit on Hockey: Action on Concussion that was held at the Mayo Clinic in 2017 (https://ce.mayo.edu/sports-medicine/content/mayo-clinic-sports-medicine-ice-hockey-summit-iii-action-concussion-2017#group-tabs-node-course-default2) I saw a lot of this data (and much more) presented and discussed and alot of the USA Hockey bigwigs were there. That's when I started to change my mind. The take-home message of the summit was to try and eliminate body checking from non-elite hockey levels. I already mentioned that there are difficulties with that in terms of the bubble players, which rock mentioned. I don't have an easy solution for that. But, based on the Summit, I came away thinking that body checking was going to eventually get weaned out at lower levels, and I think we are starting to see that now. As a scientist, I've tried to just look at the data rather than going with what I think based on just how it has always been done.
1 pointActually, when I heard that PAHL might be considering making a change along the lines of eliminating more body checking, I did a bunch of research about it. Most of the research on this has been conducted, unsurprisingly, by Canadian universities. This quote is from one of the studies I found (and yes, I admit it's just one study, but their findings were typical): "It has been posited that learning to body check at a younger age might somehow protect players from injuries related to body checking at older ages. The literature, however, does not support this (McPherson, Rothman & Howard, 2006). A further comparison between Bantam minor hockey players from Quebec (no previous body checking experience) and Alberta (2 years of body checking experience) revealed a similar rate of injury in both groups in their first year of Bantam (Emery and Kang et al., 2011; McLaughlin, 2011). In addition, the rates of injury for the Bantam players in Quebec were similar to those of the Alberta players in their first year of body checking, suggesting that regardless of when body checking is introduced there will be a spike in injuries sustained. In a breakdown of injuries sustained, there was no difference between the groups in terms of concussions, severe injury or severe concussions. Contrary to common misconceptions, introducing body checking at an older age (Bantam) when players are larger, faster, and size discrepancies may be greater does not result in significantly increased rates of injury nor does it result in more severe injury." Both set of emphases were bold in the original text. Note that, at the time the report was produced, PeeWees were permitted to body check in Alberta, but in Quebec body checking started at Bantams. The full report is available here: https://www.hockeycalgary.ca/assets/file/BC Final Report.pdf Now, in my my heart I actually agree with the logic that starting body checking earlier makes for more prepared players, as I argued above, but it appears from the data that injuries as a whole are not affected by starting earlier (or later, for that matter). I admit that I find these results entirely non-intuitive, but that's what the report prepared for Hockey Calgary found from the data. It's a complex issue. I honestly can't help but wonder if my own beliefs on this are skewed entirely by my experiences and biases on it.
1 pointso then what about that kid that is a bubble player, he plays at a lower level for 2 years, the first 2 years checking is allowed.. He missed out on learning and playing a hitting game for 2 years. Then he improves and is now at a level that allows checking, being 2 years behind kids that have been checking for 2 years, that kid is now doomed, he will get his head knocked off.. if you don't want hit or you don't want your kids hit, don't play.. we all are well aware of the risks, hopefully we as adults/parents convey those risks to our kids, as well as the coaches to the kids... no one is forcing anyone at any level to play any sport.. i just don't get it..