The body-checking debate

For years Canadian hockey parents, coaches, and players have been involved in a debate about what age hitting should be introduced to players. A new study has been released that appears to discredit the idea that learning to bodycheck at a younger age reduces injuries in older age groups.

The full article from

The study found that children who started body-checking as young as 11 had high rates of injury at first, and continued to have higher injury rates than those who started checking later in life.

In 1995, a pilot project to allow body-checking for Atom level players (then aged 10 and 11) was implemented in Ontario to determine whether it would teach kids to better guard themselves against hits as they got older.

In Quebec, checking is not allowed until the Bantam level (then aged 14 and 15).

As the players got older, the gap in injuries between Quebec and Ontario continued to widen. At 11 and 12, 30 per cent of Ontario players’ fractures were attributed to body-checks compared to 25 per cent in Quebec.

At the Bantam level, where players in both provinces were allowed to body-check, 31.4 per cent of Ontario hockey injuries were the result, compared to 19.4 per cent in Quebec.

The findings fly in the face of one of the main arguments for allowing checking in the younger divisions of minor hockey — the belief that learning to give and take hits will protect children from being injured by them.

The study’s authors argue that hockey should remain “non-contact” until players are at least 14.

It sounds like a good plan to me. Let the kids learn to skate, pass, and shoot first – then introduce hitting to them later. Good coaches will still teach the youngsters to play the body, it will just reduce the number of big injuries at a stage in life when many kids still don’t quite understand consequence.

The funny thing is I remember arguing with my dad when I was a kid playing hockey – thinking that we should’ve have been able to hit from a young age. It’s amazing how our perspectives change with time…here’s me still learning.

Canadian Military Shifts Emphasis

Reading this morning’s news I came across an article called “The Thin Red Line Between War and Peacekeeping” by Philippe Gohier.

It sounds like the Canadian Military is shifting its focus from peacekeeping to more agressive military operations. Here’s an excerpt from the article, but I recommend you read the whole thing:

At the unveiling of a new command structure for Canada’s armed forces yesterday, our country’s top soldier, General Rick Hillier, offered a warm endorsement of the incoming Tories’ national defence policy and plans to purchase icebreakers for Arctic deployment, to increase troop levels and to offer a substantial increase in defence funding. The Conservatives have pledged to increase the military’s funding to $20 billion, a 25 percent step up from the Liberals’ promise of $16 billion. The new command structure is the latest component of a defence policy Hillier developed with outgoing defence minister Bill Graham, a policy which calls for what the Citizen describes as “robust combat capability and nation building.” The National suggests the move marks a “further shift in emphasis from peacekeeping toward aggressive military operations,” as Canada’s military becomes “more fit to fight.”

Read the rest of the article

I’m really surprised that I haven’t read more in the Canadian media about this – as our foreign policy dictates how the world perceives our country, and in turn how the world perceives you and I, as Canadians.

$5.3 Billion Northern Water Defense

Stephen Harper has promised to spend $5.3 billion on three armed heavy icebreaking ships, an eventual deep-water port in Iqaluit, and an underwater network of listening posts to ensure that Canada is aware of foreign subs in our Northern waters.

Am I an idiot – or is there really a cause for concern with having subs in our northern waters?

Ideally we’d know when there were any subs in our northern waters, don’t get me wrong, but what are they going to be able to do, so far away from any of our resources or population?

The CBC article I read about this mentions that this $5.3 billion is to defend our norther waters from the Americans, Russians, and the Danes. I was under the impression that we are on good terms with all three of those countries – is there something that no one’s telling me?

$5.3 Billion – did I mention that? I think that works out to about $177 for every single man, woman, and child in Canada…and I’m sure a good chunk of our population isn’t paying too much in tax – so it’s likely much more than that per person.

What are your thoughts? Do you know of anything that needs to be defended underwater in our North? What would the Russians, Americans, or Danes be looking for under the North Pole?

Harper brushes off U.S. criticism of Arctic plan