Gregory Strong, Canadian Press
Posted Wednesday 28th November 2018 14:59 EST
Latest update Wednesday 28 November 2018 15:38 EST
Traditional names of youth hockey groups – novice, peewee, atom, bantam, and most notably denim – could soon be revised because at least one provincial ice hockey organization has launched a process that could eventually create a pan-European adaptation in sport.
At a meeting this week, the BC Hockey Board of Directors discussed the topic of division names used by its small members of the Hockey Association. The subject was partly triggered by other sports organizations that tried to exclude the term "dwarf", but also because a potential shift to age-specific categories (U15, U17 etc.) may prove to be a simpler classification system, the spokesman said.
"The BC Hockey Board has urged employees to make recommendations for new names to be introduced as part of the BC Hockey membership (British Columbia and Yukon)," said BC Hockey CEO Barry Petrachenko in the Canadian Press e-mail. "These recommendations will also be submitted to assess the membership of Hockey Canada for implementation at national level.
"He started to work on the development of these recommendations, and the decision of the new BC Hockey Board on this topic is expected in the new year."
Athletics Canada recently said it would seek to abolish the term "dwarf" as an age descriptor, a move that came a few days after the Ontario Basketball Association announced its plans to do the same. The term has been used for many decades in a range of sports, but many consider it a mischievous fit.
Allan Redford, director of the Dwarf Athletic Association of Canada, applauded recent developments and hopes that others may follow.
"I'm really excited to be taking this approach and that it has so much traction," Redford said on Wednesday. "I am very, very pleased."
Hockey Canada, the national sports governing body, has 13 members – essentially provincial / regional or regional – across the country. At national level, any adjustments in age categories or divisions require a change of regulation submitted by a member or the hockey council of Canada.
This may happen at the next scheduled meeting in May or at the annual Hockey Canada Congress next fall.
"What I see on the basis of the publicity associated with the terminology we use is that it would be a very likely situation that it will come to our members and our council," said Hockey Canada Vice-President Glen McCurdie, who helps supervise safety and regulations.
In response to an e-mail, Hockey PEI and Hockey Quebec said they would review their category settings with their respective members. The Saskatchewan Ice Hockey Association and the Manitoba Hockey League have said they have no intention of transferring anything to Canada's ice hockey.
There was no immediate response from the other hockey organizations contacted via the Canadian Press e-mail.
The International Ice Hockey Federation is currently using the age label as well as the US Hockey, which has dropped the traditional terms for the 2016-17 season.
Hockey Canada classifies the category of points as players under the age of 18 as of 31 December of the current season. Bantam is designed for athletes under the age of 15 who are used to classify younger peewee, atom and novice players. Some organizations use descriptors, such as tiny details and key things.
Sabers ahead Jason Pominville, whose children are playing smaller hockey in the Buffalo area, said he had not heard of possible changes yet and never considered a negative connotation with a hockey term.
"I would not even think of that," Pominville said after a team break in Buffalo Monday. "It has been there for so long and it has not changed for so long … (but) probably would not be bad if it changed due to circumstances."
Small categories are also used by some youth soccer organizations across Canada. While age descriptors are used at national level for this sport, Canada's football executive director Shannon Donovan said the organization would review this issue with its board members and province.
Regina Scott of Guelph, Ont., Who has a two-year-old son with a dwarf, helped make a change at her local youth basketball association after seeing this month on a banner in a department store.
The association quickly took steps to make changes and the OBA got on board. Basketball Canada, which already uses age category descriptors, supports moves.
Redford, who is also the president of the Small People in Ontario, said the use of the word "seizure" stemmed from the oppression and exploitation of dwarfs in "strange performances" in the mid-18th century.
"The line is that it's not sensitivity, it's not about snowflakes, consciousness, acceptance, and respect," Redford said. "He will come back to take control of being and self-identification rights."
With files from Canadian national ice hockey writer Joshua Clipperton.