Recently, two Minnesota students suffered spinal injuries during ice hockey games. Jack Jablonski is permanently paralyzed and Jenna Privette is still unable to walk. Jack's injury was caused by a hit from behind, known as "checking," but there's argument over what led to Jenna's. There's no dispute, however, that ice hockey can be very dangerous.
A report by UNC's Catastrophic Sport Injury Research shows ice hockey injuries high compared to other sports and usually involving spinal fractures with paralysis.
Paul Larson of the Minnesota State High School League says coaches are largely responsible for the increase in aggressive play that causes injuries. It's about "...coaches desiring to win as opposed to teaching skills that may take longer to adapt," says Larson.
Though players themselves have begun initiatives to end illegal hitting, USA Hockey needs to adopt laws that hold coaches responsible.
Tell USA Hockey to hold coaches responsible for safe high school hockey.
We, the undersigned, find the growing trend of serious injuries to high school hockey players beyond unacceptable.
The injuries inflicted on children playing ice hockey are one's we'd expect to see occurring from wars, not participation in sports.
UNC's report has made recommendations as have others to avoid injuries in sports, but apparently these recommendations have not been taken seriously enough. It is becoming clear that there should be no tolerance whatsoever for illegal checking in ice hockey.
It appears also that the consequences for these deadly actions are far to frivolous to effect any change.
Whatever the cause for coaches allowing this apparent increase in aggressive behavior, whether pressure on them to keep their jobs or simply pressure they put on students to increase winnings, this pressure should end immediately.
As parents are held liable for illegal actions by their minor children, perhaps so should coaches be held responsible for their team members' illegal activities, especially those that cause such devastating effects.
Please adopt and enforce regulations that will have some real effect on reversing this trend of violence and injury in high school ice hockey. If necessary, hold coaches responsible for injuries their team players cause through illegal checking.
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