This is a tough one. Studies have shown that taking the checking out of peewees has dramacically cut down on concussions at that level. I think Canada tried the squirt checking thing with the same thought that it would teach the kids the proper technique and not be such a big deal when they got older. But concussions went way up when they tried it.
Part of the problem is the concussion protocol. You bring your kid to the dr with any type of symptoms and the dr is most likely going to day concussion.
There is talk now of taking it out of bantams. We hit in peewees but at the same time there was not real talk of concussions back then. For me its just a tough call. Its part of the game but at the same time I think we have to look out for the kids long term health. Good question to debate on here though.
It can be worse in the town leagues. With two birth years playing you have second year kids just looking for smaller-size first year players for a "welcome to bantams" moment.
Studies scmuddies. Let's get the facts correct here. USA Hockey implemented no checking until Bantam for one reason, to keep the $ gravy train from leaving the station until after the Peewee years. Period.
No rational, independent study in the world would come-up with the concept of: 'Let's wait until the size differential in humans is at it's greatest over any possible two year span and then introduce full body contact.' 4'6 88 pounders playing with 6'2 170 pound players is a great idea? No. One is hiding trying to avoid contact and the other is chasing kids around hoping he has an edge....both not great for hockey development.
I would much prefer USA Hockey to come clean and not go out and commission 'studies' trying to prove their case. Better to say, 'how else are we going to fund all these USA Development teams and travel all over the globe, we need the revenue and those two additional years provide what we need.'
Wait until the hittin' starts!
It is a very interesting debate & I would be curious to learn more about the Canadian results. I'm not surprised that the number of reported concussions increased, I'm thinking t is sort of an obvious outcome. What I would be interested in learning is what is the percentage of players to reported concussions and did they do it long enough to see what the ramifications were at the older levels? Let's say 1 in 10,000 in squirts had concussions prior to hitting and it rose to 1 in 1,000, what happened at the Bantam levels, did it go from 3 in 100 to 3 in 1,000? I wonder if they tracked the severity of the concussions as well? I would think having a nationalized healthcare system, they would have much better access to real data than we do in the US.
I don't want to see kids get hurt, but if you aren't going to remove hitting, at some point it has to start. Waiting until a kid makes a high school team would even be worse than the current situation, especially at schools that already struggle with numbers and a large percentage of the team are underclassman. I'm trying to imagine that five foot nothing freshman skating down on the wing with the puck, head down, 3 feet off the boards, as he attempts to toe drag the six foot plus senior defenseman at the blue line and the likely outcome.
I may have selective memory but when USA Hockey made the change, the only reason I can recall had to do with participation numbers. My recollection was they lost a significant number of players between SQ Maj or PW Min and then another big drop the following year between PW Min & PW Maj and they attributed that to checking and by delaying it they would keep these kids involved with the hopes that they would mature enough so that it wasn't such a big deal. I could swear I even remember an official being quoted as saying "We are very concerned about what this will do to the number and severity of head injuries at the Bantam level where physical differences are at their greatest and plan to monitor that closely."
It's a great topic and one that I would love to see USA Hockey have more open dialogue about.
Although us parents are part of the problem too. I remember a kid on my sons team getting crushed from behind in Ban Min, literally knocked out cold for a good 30 to 45 seconds, it was one of the dirtiest hits I've seen in the last 10 years and I'm simply amazed the kid didn't break his neck. Anyway, the following weekend the parents tried to tell the coaches he was cleared to play. They didn't even bring the kid to the doctors because they were afraid of what it would do to his hockey career. "Yeah he's complaining of headaches, not eating much because he says he doesn't feel good but we're pretty sure he's okay, we think it's just a touch of a stomach flu." To the coaches credit, they allowed him to dress but didn't play him that weekend and maybe even the next.
"I may have selective memory but when USA Hockey made the change, the only reason I can recall had to do with participation numbers."
I don't care too much either way but they should just state the truthful reason. They want the revenue.
I read somewhere that it has to do with kids that went through puberty or have not gone through it yet. At the peewee level its a pretty big jump between a 111/12 year old and a 13 year old.
Kids necks are not developed enough before puberty to be able to support the head during an impact.
Look at Pop Warner football - Numbers are way down because parents do not want to risk there kids long term health.
Another issue is there is no baseline testing so whenever a kid gets rocked - goes to Dr - Dr will always say its a concussion to be on the safe side.
This past year in peewees my kid ran into another kid head on. My kid was not right for 3 weeks. Constant headaches, sensitive to bright light. It was a real eye opener as to how much an effect this had on him.
Yes hitting is eventually going to happen. Not really sure what the right answer is and there might not even be one.
The other issue is that the long term effects of hitting usually come way after your kid is done playing so its hard to correlate the cause.
This argument is a moot point. The wheels on the checking bus are already being loosened. Checking will be banned at all levels of youth hockey except maybe the A or Elite levels. Look at the CTE issue in football. Kids migrating to Flag football instead of pop warner in huge numbers.
Head injuries are no joke and the science behind them is just starting to come to light.
I agree with your assumption that hitting will continue to be removed from the game as it certainly has a causatory impact on enrollment numbers. I don't think that was really the question though, it was what age SHOULD checking be introduced? However if you are right, and unfortunately I think you are, no way they can limit checking to only Tier-1 players, it's just not practical. It's either going to be gone all together or continue the way it is now.
If USA Hockey decides to ban hitting all together, MIAA will almost certainly have to follow suit or will have to change grade requirements for varsity hockey (11th & 12th grade only perhaps). For a host of reasons, HS hockey already struggles with numbers at many schools. More and more publics are having to skate underclassman, create co-op teams, etc. No reasonable parent would put a 14 year old kid on the ice at HS and have him learn checking on the fly by getting hit by 17 & 18 year old young men.
If USA Hockey thinks they can generate more revenue by eliminating hitting, they will. If club teams can generate more $ by self insuring and allowing checking, you will see another explosion in U14-U18 teams looking to take advantage of it.
The self insuring thing is the kicker. What insurance company is going to touch this especially if the major governing body of youth hockey in the US says no checking. Insurance companies are dropping coverage for inflatables now because a few kids got taken away in the wind. What happens when parents really start taking programs to court because there kid has life long issues due to repeated concussions and frankly an online course for coaches really isn't adequate training to deal with a brain injury.
I've thought for a while that they should allow checking at squirts and peewee at the "AAA" level (New England "elite" level). This enables your strongest players to develop the skills needed to play at the higher levels (high school/college) while providing a place for recreational hockey that will maintain high enrollment numbers for USA Hockey. In New England, I would draw the line at EHF Elite and E9. This would also bring us in line with the rest of the country by drawing a distinct line between AAA and AA hockey.
Wait till the hittin' starts!!!
About 75% of all high end kids age 13-14 disappear and then all the "trees" who can't skate, have no hockey IQ and stone hands are finally appreciated and get all the coveted spots.
Sorry you may have missed my point on the insurance. U8 and U20 are completely different than U12. I think if USA hockey got rid of checking and you tried to get an insurance policy on an U12 for concussions, you could run into problems. This is just my opinion being on the board in other sports and dealing with insurance companies. This is a good debate. Insurance companies are going to consult data and medical experts. And having insurance doesn't limit your liability. Remember, coaches are not doctors. They are getting trained via safesport for a few hours on concussion protocol. As a league and team your going to stake your future on that. One lawsuit could end your organization. Not even the damages but just the legal costs alone.
I didn't miss the point, I was simply trying to point out if checking were eliminated from HS and below, some private enterprise will try and fill the void. I agree, risk is there but it will happen.
You are right about coaches not being well trained as I've experienced it myself with one of my middle kids. Coach didn't see the hit, kept rolling him out. After the game, first thing I started asking my son was about his head, balance, etc. because he was clearly not right for the rest of the game. Coach overheard me and asked "He hit his head?". Long story short, fairly severe concussion, season over, missed weeks of school and months of sports. Also he never played another game for that coach.
Here's an interesting side topic that I started thinking about in context with this question: What can be done to reduce the head trauma, short of eliminating checking?
Now that's the way to add value to a reasonable discussion! I mean why have a real conversation about tweaking the sport before USA Hockey steps in and removes hitting all together & fundamentally changes the nature of the game. No it's not going to go anywhere, but it's enjoyable topic. Any more than the original question of "what age should they start checking?" is going to go anywhere.
No my kids didn't get cut, yes my kids played and play "elite" hockey. My oldest played through HS (public than prep), my middle two currently play HS and I'm not a snowflake. It's an interesting discussion, I'm sorry you are too obtuse to follow along and limit yourself to the enriching topic of E9 vs EHF.
So please go back to your cash register and "No, I don't want fries with that!"
I read an article that Canada is thinking about only allowing checking to continue in Tier 1 level hockey. The argument was that Tier 1 players might continue playing the sport at a high level but Tier 2 and below is mainly for recreation and fun. Some of the Jr B leagues are blood bath leagues.