The Body Contact in Hockey Debate
A hockey mom in Markham is looking to ban body contact in “boys” minor hockey and I find myself solidly on the fence on this one. The Boy has always played with body contact and the Devil has not, though a friend who came out to one of her recent games would likely choose to argue. He noted there is plenty of body contact in girls hockey, just not body checking and that’s why I’m Switzerland when it comes to this issue. There are also many non-body contact league options popping up around the country. There has been one in our centre for as long as I can remember; though an admittedly lower level of hockey is played there.
With both kids we’ve been very fortunate to not have seen any major injuries in 12 years. Last year it was the Devil and not the Boy who suffered a mild concussion when she “accidentally” ran into an opposing player and fell backwards on the ice. Likewise, one of the Devil’s teammates is currently out with a concussion not incurred as a result of any “body check”. I then think back to a teammate of the Boy, a goalie from a couple of years back, who was concussed when an opposing player accidentally ran into him and caused him to fall back on the steel net he was protecting. Hockey is a very fast game played on a slick surface and injuries like these are bound to happen. And yes, I understand taking hitting out of the game altogether will reduce the likelihood of such injuries occurring. However, I contend that we assume some risk of injury when we put our kids in any sport; be it soccer, football, basketball or gymnastics. Not to sound too much like an old-fashioned, ill-informed hockey purist, but body checking to remove someone from the puck is part of the game. I’m fairly certain taking it out at all levels would have an effect on registration, which is already heading in the wrong direction (a fact more likely related to the escalating cost of hockey).
As the article states, most kids like the physical aspects of the game and yes I know this is not a decision to be left to the children who do not necessarily understand the risks. Another of the Devil’s recent games was officiated in a way, which allowed for more body contact than normal and I believe most people who witnessed it would say it was one of the most entertaining games of the season thus far.
I certainly don’t have the definitive answer on this contentious issue, but my general reaction is if you want to ensure your children have no chance of being injured, keep them out of physical sports. I’m certain a comment like this would draw the ire of many parents. Ultimately, we all make choices regarding the level of risk we are comfortable with introducing to our kids’ lives and we do it every time they step out of the door, onto the ice or into so many other situations in an uncertain world.