Whenever you watch professional ice hockey you cannot help but think it is slightly barbaric. It is the only professional sport in the world where fighting is actively encouraged. The fact that teams play with an “enforcer” says it all. To put things into perspective, the New York Rangers, 26/5 in the betting to win the Stanley Cup at the time of writing, brought in Tanner Glass on a $1.45 million contract just to rough up the opposition.
With such attention given to bruisers, you would be forgiven for not wanting your child to partake in ice hockey. But should parents be averse to allowing their children to play the sport?
There is no correct answer to this, but, with further regulations, the answer should be no they should not.
Body checking is not permitted in the youth leagues until participants have reached the age of 13. Now this does allow for big body challenges like ramming your opponent into the sideboards, which is obviously going to be of some pain to the person on the receiving end. If you take that at face value it seems far too violent. However, when contrasted with other contact sports the danger doesn’t seem as great. Comparing ice hockey to football or, even worse, rugby – a popular contact sport played mostly outside of North America, the danger element starts to pale in comparison. The hits in these sports are of far greater impact than those sustained in ice hockey.
Injuries are a commonplace in every sport and they alone should not put you off allowing your child to partake in the sport. Wrapping your child in cotton wool is not a route you can take. You have to allow them to take the knocks that contact sport entails, it is character building.
However, the fighting aspect of ice hockey is still a black mark against the sport, and unless the leagues enforce harsher rules, ideally banning it from the sport, then reservations about allowing your children to play are completely justified. Children as young as 10-years-old can get caught up in fighting at games and that simply is not on. Punishments need to match the crime, and if the punishment is grossly excessive then it will stop fighting from occurring. Once that does happen then allowing your child to play ice hockey is far less of a risk.
Away from the physicality, the game serves as a fantastic cornerstone in helping your child develop social skills. The sense of teamwork and camaraderie found in sports like ice hockey are hugely beneficial to your child’s development in later life, as such enrolling your child in a team sport really does make a lot of sense.
Ice hockey is not ideal, the tackles can be hard, but they also are in football, soccer, and rugby. However, the fighting element of it is not ideal, but if the league steps in to try and eliminate it from the game then you should not be perturbed about your child playing ice hockey. Is the sport safe? The answer to that is no sport is safe, you cannot live in fear of your child picking up a bump, and it just isn’t fair on them.