Injury Lawyer David Hollingsworth reflects on minor hockey and body checking
.As a father of 3 children in minor hockey and as an Ottawa personal injury lawyer I am torn with Hockey’ Canada’s decision to ban bodychecking in minor hockey for 11 and 12 year olds. Here is why. The National Council of Hockey Canada voted to ban all bodychecking in minor hockey for 11 and 12 year old children for obvious safety reasons. The incidence of child head injuries and concussions in sports is on the rise. Can we change the rules and reduce the incidence of concussions in young hockey players? Probably and that is obviously what the National Council of Hockey Canada is trying to do. The controversy is whether or not this is the right thing to do.
Some would argue it is not. Some believe that the difference between 11-year-old (first-year peewee) and a 14-year-old (second-year bantam) hitting one another is what should be looked at. They believe that the impact caused by two 11 year olds hitting one another is significantly less and that if players are taught how to give and receive body checks properly before most of them are physically large enough to do real damage, it will reduce head injuries and concussions. Some believe that this is throwing our 14 year old hockey players into a dangerous situation, as they learn to hit and take a hit at a time in their lives when their bodies are changing, growing and full of testosterone. On the other hand, allowing the brain to develop and settle for two more years before a potentially dangerous “hit” is something to think about and I believe is very important.
To prepare for this situation, Hockey Canada has introduced mandatory bodychecking training programs for novice (ages nine and 10), as well as for peewee. It only banned bodychecking from games. Some would argue that this is not realistic and that nothing teaches a kid to hit and receive a hit as much as a real life bodycheck in a game.
The question remains does delaying the onset of checking until bantam, when players are bigger, stronger and faster actually increase injuries and head traumas at the bantam level or does it reduce such injuries at peewee ?
Does Hockey Canada’s decision move the problem up by 2 years and make it worse ? It’s a tough call. As an Ottawa personal injury lawyer, unfortunately I meet regularly with people who have suffered a serious brain injury and concussions from accidents and sports and I have to say if there are any steps we can take to reduce these head injuries, I want to. My eldest is 10 years old , so part of me is breathing a sigh of relief; however it also has me very nervous for him in 2 years time.
I’d love to hear your opinion. What do you think of Hockey Canada’s decision to ban bodychecking in minor hockey for 11 and 12 year olds ?