Hockey Has a Concussion Problem, Too

By Noah Davis 

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On a day when the story coming out of the National Football League once again revolves around concussions comes the news that hockey officials will discuss ways to reduce head injuries on the youth level.

Members from organizations including USA Hockey, Hockey Canada, the N.H.L., the International Ice Hockey Federation, and equipment manufacturers will meet at the Mayo Clinic on Tuesday. One of the topics on the table is a proposal to raise the age where body checking is allowed to 13 years old.

According to a study from Alberta, the province’s 9,000 11 and 12 year olds sustain 700 concussions per year. But would raising the age solve the problem?

Yes and no. While 13 year olds are better equipped to handle hits, another study shows that women’s hockey – which doesn’t allow body checking – has the highest concussion rate of any N.C.A.A. sport. Additionally, 18 percent of all injuries across the sport are concussion. Youth players suffer 23.15 concussions per 1,000 playing hours as opposed to 29.59 per 1,000 in the professional game.

Dan Pinti, an advocate for raising the age who’s son sustained a serious head injury after being checked into the boards, offered a telling quote.

“Why are we insisting that our boys play the game in a way that we ourselves as adults would not, because we don’t want to get hurt?” he asked the New York Times.