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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lord Tweedsmuir tops Tamanawis in all-cat fight for Surrey RCMP Classic title

Panthers’ Jaeden Reid was named MVP at all-Surrey boys tournament

Surrey students donate 2,000 pairs of socks

Initiative part of the Leo Club program

Surrey hosts grand-opening ceremony of North Surrey arena complex

‘Accessible’ facility features three sheets of ice

Trade to hometown team a ‘blessing in disguise’ for Surrey Eagles defenceman

Kieran O’Hearn gets to play in front of family, who live just minutes from South Surrey Arena

White Rock solid waste open house scheduled

Event to take place next month

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

VIDEO: SPCA and RCMP remove several animals, including pig, at private animal rescue in Langley

Home at 5500 block of 216th Street has undergone multiple seizures over the past five years

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

Vancouver police probe second homicide in less than 24 hours

Woman was found dead in her Gastown home

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Most Read