Volunteer coaches such as Jamie Beaulne put Atom division hockey players through their paces at evaluations Sunday at Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex. (Black Press Media files)

Hockey may shift from ‘midget’ and other traditional names to age descriptors

BC Hockey’s board of directors discussed the topic of division names used by its minor hockey association members

Traditional youth hockey age group names — novice, peewee, atom, bantam and, most notably, midget — could soon be revised as at least one provincial hockey organization has kickstarted the process that could eventually create a countrywide adjustment in the sport.

At a meeting this week, BC Hockey’s board of directors discussed the topic of division names used by its minor hockey association members. The subject was raised in part due to other sport organizations moving to eliminate the term ‘midget,’ but also because a potential shift to age-specific categories (U15, U17, etc.) may prove to be an easier classification system, an association spokesman said.

“The BC Hockey board has directed staff to make recommendations for new names to be implemented within the BC Hockey membership (British Columbia and the Yukon),” BC Hockey CEO Barry Petrachenko said in an email to The Canadian Press. “These recommendations will also be brought forward for consideration to the Hockey Canada membership for implementation nationally.

“Work has begun on developing these recommendations and a decision by the BC Hockey board regarding this topic is expected in the new year.”

Athletics Canada recently said it would pursue dropping the term “midget” as an age category descriptor, a move that came a few days after the Ontario Basketball Association stated its plans to do the same. The term has been used for decades in a variety of sports but many consider it to be a derogatory slur.

Allan Redford, the director of the Dwarf Athletic Association of Canada, applauded the recent developments and hopes others may follow suit.

“I’m actually wonderfully encouraged that they’re taking this approach and that it’s getting this much traction,” Redford said Wednesday. “I’m very, very pleased.”

Hockey Canada, the sport’s national governing body, has 13 members — essentially provincial/territorial or regional organizations — across the country. On a national level, any adjustments to age categories or divisions require a regulation change brought forward by a member or the Hockey Canada board.

That could happen at the next scheduled members’ meeting in May or at Hockey Canada’s annual congress next fall.

“What I would perceive based on the publicity associated with the terminology as we’re currently using, is that that would be an entirely likely situation, that it would come before our members and therefore our board,” said Hockey Canada senior vice-president Glen McCurdie, who helps oversee safety and regulations.

In email replies, Hockey PEI and Hockey Quebec said they would be reviewing their category setups with their respective memberships. The Saskatchewan Hockey Association and Hockey Manitoba, meanwhile, said they do not have plans to put anything forward to Hockey Canada.

There was no immediate response from the other hockey organizations contacted via email by The Canadian Press.

The International Ice Hockey Federation currently uses age designators as does USA Hockey, which dropped the use of traditional terms for the 2016-17 season.

Hockey Canada classifies the midget category as players who are under 18 as of Dec. 31 of the current season. Bantam is for athletes under 15, with peewee, atom and novice used as classifications for younger players. Some organizations use descriptors like minor midget and major midget as well.

The midget category is also used by some youth football organizations across Canada. While age descriptors are used at that sport’s national level, Football Canada executive director Shannon Donovan said the organization would be reviewing the subject with its board and provincial members.

Regina Scott of Guelph, Ont., who has a two-year-old son with dwarfism, helped make a change at her local youth basketball association after noticing the term on a banner at a mall earlier this month.

The association quickly took steps to make changes and the OBA got on board. Basketball Canada, which already uses age category descriptors, supported the moves.

Redford, who’s also president of the Little People of Ontario, said the word’s use as a slur originates from the oppression and exploitation of people with dwarfism in “freak shows” in the mid-1800s.

“The line is that it’s not about sensitivity, it’s not about being a snowflake, it’s about awareness, acceptance and respect,” Redford said. “It comes right back to taking control over being and the right of self-identification.”

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Annual May Day parade offers weekend fun

Roughly 150 people show up to check out the procession

Back in Time

Historical Perspective

Clearwater Secondary School girl’s soccer team off to good start

CSS made second place in a tournament of 15 teams

Convicted animal abuser to return to B.C. court May 21

Catherine Jessica Adams is facing a breach of probation charge

Kelowna toddler suffers cracked skull after fall from balcony

Neighbour who found the two-year-old boy said he has a bump the size of a golf ball on his head

Unbe-leaf-able: Agassiz man finds more than 200 four-leaf clovers in a month

Walt Hardinge has found more than 219 four-or-more leaf clovers this spring alone

Crews fight fire with fire to keep blaze from northern Alberta town

The wildfire now covers some 920 square kilometres

Man in B.C. charged with murder and arson in 2016 New Brunswick death

He is charged in the death of 71-year-old Lucille Maltais, who was found inside a burned down home

Improve your life and theirs, adopt a cat from the BC SPCA

The BC SPCA holds an adult cat adoption promotion

RCMP probe if teen was intentionally hit with ski pole by mystery skier on B.C. mountain

The incident happened on March 20 on Grouse Mountain. Police are urging witnesses to come forward

Support growing for orphaned Okanagan child after father dies in highway crash

Family thanks emergency crews for assistance in traumatic incident

Pipeline protester chimes in on Justin Trudeau’s B.C. fundraising speech

The government purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion project for $4.5 billion

Baby boom seniors putting pressure on B.C. long-term care: report

B.C. leads Canada in growth of dementia, dependence on care

Most Read