I recently learned Whitehorse Minor hockey is a noncontact league. This strikes me as a missed opportunity because it both eliminates the ability to compete against teams outside of the Yukon who do play contact, and it doesn’t allow boys to be boys.
With no other option for competitive contact sports such as football, lacrosse or rugby in the Yukon, young kids in the area are being deprived of the opportunity to participate in organized, regulated physical sports.
These sports develop a different sense of camaraderie that can only be acquired through going through the modern-day battle that contact sports provide. Physical contact and roughhousing are part of boys growing up, and a safe and controlled environment is the best medium for this. It is a crucial part of boys being boys.
Many people are worried about their children hurting themselves. No one wants anyone to get hurt, but my understanding is that the majority of hockey injuries occur from unprepared players. The first thing children learn when they start contact hockey is how to take a hit and protect themselves when being hit. This does not prevent all injuries, but it goes a very long way towards it.
I don’t agree with the issue of size being a huge factor as in my first year of Bantam (13- to 15-year-olds), being all of five feet and 90 pounds, I loved the contact. I have never been aggressive or chippy – receiving the Lady Byng award for sportsmanship twice in my contact-hockey career – but contact was why I wanted to play.
Being the smallest guy on the ice, I just learned to keep my head up and pick my spots. I would get caught every once in a while, but nothing more than minor bumps and bruises and lots of smiles afterwards.
While I fully support contact hockey in the Yukon, I do not support the reasons quoted in the recent newspaper article.
The concept of “building hockey players” frightens me.
It sounds like parents trying to live vicariously through their children on a quest for greatness. A few people from the Yukon may make a living through hockey, but the vast majority will take numerous life lessons and fond memories out of the game and will realize that it is just that, a game.
Being a talented hockey player here is great and playing junior down south is even better, but it is very likely not a long-term plan that will put food on the table.
I don’t want to discourage youngsters from dreaming of the NHL, but I do think that the parents wanting to “build hockey players” should take a reality check.
The idea of “kids having fun bringing down the league” is just ridiculous. These are kids not robots. Kids like to have fun. It may be that kids not taking the game as seriously as others are bringing down the quality of play in the league. But just because someone is less athletically gifted or doesn’t have the time commitment necessary to play rep hockey doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be allowed to play at all.
The anti-contact camp noted registration has increased since contact has ceased. This should be the ultimate goal and is hard to argue against, but I wonder if this is true across all age groups.
I still feel the many rough-and-tumble kids that just love a bit of physical combat, and those who do have aspirations of higher levels of hockey should have a contact option. If some sort of system could be created that had an optional contact division, or co-ed noncontact, or a more open and comprehensive rec league, we all may be better off.