By Giulia Frisina
A new survey, conducted by Angus Reid research firm, says a majority of hockey parents and fans believe that raising the age of body checking can significantly decrease the amount of head and spinal cord injuries in young players.
The survey was commissioned by The Rick Hansen Institute – a not-for-profit organization that works to research and promote the advancement of treatments for spinal cord injuries in Canada — looked at 2,017 adults with children who play hockey or who are fans of the game.
“The results of the survey, which was the first of its kind, found that 88 per cent would support a national survey to eliminate body checking in hockey for ages 11 and 12,” Dan Maceluch, Communications manager for the Rick Hansen Institute, told Humber News.
“Currently, the practice is allowed in some areas of the country starting at 11 years of age,” said Maceluch, who is based in Vancover.
LISTEN: Dan Maceluch on raising awareness about body checking
Maceluch said the recommendation is not to eliminate body checking but to introduce it a later age in competitive hockey.
“By reducing sports related injuries, Canada can save millions of dollars in its health care system,” he said.
Hockey mom, Carol Glickolic, said her two teenage boys started hockey at age 5 and continue to play in a house league in Toronto.
“I’m totally for banning body checking unless your kids are at a pro level. When a child plays recreational hockey there in no need for it,” said Glickolic.
She said 11-year-olds are too young to start body checking, even at competitive level.
“There is a huge difference in size between a 11-year -old and a 15-year-old,” she said. “A kid at the age of 11 thinks body checking is fun and they don’t do it properly.”
Scott Oakman, Executive Director of the Greater Toronto Hockey League, told Humber News his organization currently allows body checking at the competitive level starting at 11-years-old, but said he will review the current survey results.
“We usually look at the facts when making decisions,” said Oakman. “We will look at the current survey and make and new changes based on the results.”