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Hockey Canada’s older bodychecking age sends a message that children’s safety is paramount

By The Globe & Mail, 05/27/13, 11:45AM MDT

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The willful blindness in hockey at all levels toward concussions has diminished. Hockey Canada, the governing body for minor hockey, has followed the lead of USA Hockey in barring bodychecking below age 13, down from 11. What happened to hockey’s greatest star, Sidney Crosby, a year lost to a head injury in which the game’s (and his own) willful blindness almost certainly put him at severe risk, opened the eyes of hockey people everywhere. This country’s children have been facing similar risks at early ages, and Hockey Canada had to confront a powerful strain in the country’s psyche to make the rule change; the attachment to bodychecking from an early age is part of what makes Canadian hockey what it is.

The rule change should be taken as an opportunity to emphasize skill development in an atmosphere shorn of intimidation, and to curb the loss of thousands of young players who don’t enjoy that atmosphere, or whose parents don’t relish the thought of allowing their children’s growing brains to become scrambled.

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