Current medical evidence documents that injuries, specifically concussions, can be substantially reduced if body checking is removed from minor hockey. Given the recent findings on the long term consequences of concussions, we are asking Hockey Canada to provide a safe playing environment for our Rep and Tiered hockey players: one which reduces the risk of concussions and injury by eliminating body checking.
Hockey Canada's current rules are failing players in the instance when they most need to be protected. We maintain that, if left unchanged, this situation is a serious breach of responsibility and accountability. This is NOT an issue of being for or against body checking- this is a broader issue concerning the health and welfare of Canadian children in sport.
Body Checking Fast Facts:
1. Children and teenagers are more susceptible to concussions than adults. Long-term consequences of concussions include reduced cognitive function, depression and dementia.
2. There is an abundance of solid medical evidence which proves that body checking is the single most consistent risk factor for injury to minor hockey players. Body checking is associated with between 46% and 86% of injuries in minor hockey. The top 3 injuries incurred are concussions, knee sprains, and shoulder dislocations.
3. Renowned medical organizations such as the Mayo Clinic, the Canadian Paediatric Society, and the American Pediatric Association endorse the action of removing body checking from minor hockey.
4. Boys play hockey for fun above ALL else. More than 99% of children who play Rep or Tiered hockey in Canada will not have professional hockey careers; after the age of 19 they will play in recreational, non-hitting leagues.
5. Hockey Canada continues to debate the issue. They maintain that body checking is a required skill for players entering into professional hockey careers. In fact, when body checking is removed from game play, the skill and development actually goes up. The "body checking is part of the game" retort is typically launched from the uninformed, or nostalgic.
6. The volunteer system of hockey results in gaps in the ability to manage and mitigate potential injury situations, leaving the children at even further risk
7. Many boys leave hockey because they do not like the body checking game. As 30% of Canadian youth are overweight or obese, keeping children active should remain a key goal. We want our boys to be players, not spectators.
Why do we have a minor hockey system designed for the uber-minority that may make it to the NHL instead of for the vast majority of children who want to play competitive hockey for the duration of their lifetime?
This is no longer an issue for Hockey Canada to ponder. This is a public health crisis. The time to make change is now.
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