We know we're at a scary moment in the history of minor hockey when a local Canadian association has banned bodychecking according to the Peace Arch News, a paper based in a suburb of B.C.
The article says, "It's just for the house leagues," but that makes no sense. "Just for the house leagues" doesn't mean a lot, especially in B.C., where house leagues are far more competitive than they are in the rest of Canada. In B.C. house leagues, many players bring insane skill and can compete with their "enlightened" brethren in the B and A leagues.
To take bodychecking out of the sport doesn't make it safer. Players will still hit, because boys will be boys. And, it will still be hard for girls to play and fit in, if that's your goal, because boys will be boys.
I was the smallest, shortest, most frail player in my house league for my entire playing "career," and I couldn't wait for bodychecking. You know why? Because, like I said, it was happening anyway, and I was sick and tired of being run on every play and not being able to legally hit or fight back. I wanted to learn to protect myself, for my own survival and for my pride. It wasn't that these other players were dirty... it's that I was small. I wouldn't blame them for going after someone my size, because it must have been fun. I understood that.
Bodychecking helped me. It helped me develop as a player, and as a person. I learned to hit and I learned to play. Without contact -- without hitting and being hit -- I wouldn't have been a real hockey player.
These kids that are coming into your sterilized version of hockey won't be real hockey players either.
It didn't strip me of my safety. Quite the opposite.
It let me grow up. It's part of the sport. I belonged, and I felt I thrived. I could be proud of the game I played, not ashamed.
I would have always felt cheated if I wasn't able to really play the sport as it was meant to be played. I love the game too much, and I wanted to play it so bad. I didn't want to play some half-assed version that pandered to other kids that wanted to play shinny hockey or touch football.
If I was never allowed to bodycheck, I would have been embarrassed to tell my friends what league I played in.
I never was. But, somewhere in the Pacific Coast Association, some kid is feeling cheated right now. He's feeling slighted.
Come on, guys.
You're not helping your sons (or daughters) with this initiative. You're only trapping them by stripping the game they love of one of its most essential assets. You're not letting them play their game, and you're not letting them live their passion and their dream.
Because, let's face it: Nobody from house league is going to the NHL. Neither are those kids in B. It's a hard show to make. The auditions are tough, and they last for life.
These kids only have a few years left of playing the game they love, every night of every week.
Don't steal it from them now just because you decided to go on a crusade against "concussions," that unholy C-word you know nothing about.
Don't steal this from them. Don't steal this from us.
You've flicked the first domino in a movement that could ruin Canada's only national pastime.
I hope you're happy.
This article was originally posted on White Cover Magazine