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David Gerths Mrs. Dietel-McLaughlin First Year Composition 28 October 2010 Injuries in Hockey As I watched from the bench, my teammate, Jake, skated behind our own net. Carrying the puck, he continued around the net, skating up the ice towards the opposing team s goal. One moment everything was the way it should be, and in the next, it all became a disaster. Jake was handling the puck when an opposing player came at him, attempting to hit him to knock Jake away from the puck. He was skating with his head down, watching the puck, and it completely cut off his vision of the oncoming opponent. At the last second, Jake attempted to move out of the way, and as a result made leg to leg contact with the other player. Jake flipped head over heels, landed, and a few seconds later let out a high pitched scream that brought chills to everyone in the arena. The coaches rushed out onto the ice before the whistle was even blown to end play, knowing that Jake was seriously hurt. Immediately a parent was called to notify an ambulance, and fifteen minutes later Jake was on a stretcher getting wheeled off the ice to go to the ambulance. Jake had broken his femur clean into two pieces. Why did this happen? Jake had all his gear on correctly to protect himself, but it didn t keep him from getting hurt. Throughout the previous decades, the sport of hockey has experienced an increasing amount of injuries.In Alan B. Ashare s book Safety in Ice Hockey he reveals that once players reach Peewees (hockey has age brackets, from younger to older: mite, squirt, peewee, bantam,
midget minor, midget major, juniors) at the age of 12 they are allowed to make physical contact with another player. At this level, the injury rates of a player skyrockets about 8 percent. The most common of these injuries are contusions, fractures, and concussions, according to Ashare. This is important because it not only reveals that players are getting hurt, but also that hitting is a big part of why players get injured in hockey. In Jeff Grabmeier s article, Serious Injuries Among Young Children , Jeff contributes useful statistics that give an insight to the growth of injuries between 1990 and 2006. Over 16 years, injury rates have skyrocketed 163 percent in children between the age of 9 and 14, he says, while there was also an 85 percent increase in hockey related injuries in young adults between the ages of 15 to 18. This data undoubtedly provides an alarming example of the increase of injuries within a span of only 16 years. He also gives some more statistics, in which he accounts that 9 percent of all hockey related injuries are from concussions. This is important because concussions are a major injury that I want to focus on because of its seriousness, especially when among younger adults because it affects the growth of the brain. Altogether, this establishes the fact that hockey players are extremely prone to injuries in practices and even more so in games, almost more than any other type of athlete. Hockey is known as one of the most dangerous sports in the world because of its high velocities, intense body contact, and the fact that it s a highly energy and emotion related sport; for these reasons, the equipment used for protection in hockey is under constant evolution. Reebok, a hockey equipment manufacturer, provides a timeline of the progression of equipment throughout the history of hockey. This timeline shows when the first protective elbow materials were used in the 1930 s by sowing a patch of leather onto the sleeve of the
jersey where the elbow is, around the same time the first helmet was worn in the NHL. If you skip forward to the late 1970 s it records the date that it was mandatory for professional players to actually wear helmets. Though it is shown that the game has evolved, I believe that this excerpt from the document says it best, As the game of hockey has evolved on ice so too has its equipment. In the game s earliest days, when players skated on natural ice and substitutions were rare, a hockey uniform s most important job was to keep its wearer warm. Innovations in ice-making, skate design and coaching strategy would soon launch hockey on a century-long progression that has led to today s short shifts played at top speeds by bigger players who shoot the puck harder. Modern hockey equipment is asked to perform a multitude of complex jobs: maximizing performance and agility while offering protection, keeping the athlete dry and paradoxically for this winter game cool and comfortable. This quote proves that the evolution of equipment has maximized the performance of a 6 foot 3 inch, 220 player so much that equipment is rendered extremely useful in the presence of such force. Players are able to skate faster and shoot harder, as well as protect themselves better, thanks to the evolution of equipment. So how can equipment become safer for hockey players, yet injury rates still rise at an unprecedented rate? If one takes into consideration the constant rise of injury rates in hockey, and the fact that hockey equipment has become safer than any equipment ever used, then undoubtedly one will come to the conclusion that something is wrong.The increase hockey injuries in general, are the product of hits to the head and a low amount of players wearing mouth guards, and especially because of a lack of caution and preparation in players throughout the sport of hockey despite increases in the effectiveness of protective equipment.
A proposal to a possible solution to this problem is that the NHL and leagues under it need to set stricter rules for hits to the head as well as fighting. The Tuscan Citizen recently cited an incident when Pittsburgh s Matt Cooke made violent head contact with Boston s Marc Savaard in which Savaard suffered a concussion and started a fight between the two teams. Afterwards, rule changes affecting head contact and fighting were called for. Head contact, the Tuscan Citizen says, should result in a game misconduct and fighting should be completely banned from the game. If this happened, it would clean up the game, and there would be indeed less injuries sustained. However, according to BleacherReport.com, Ryan McFadden argues that head contact and fighting in hockey should stay a part of the game because recent polls showed that if fighting were taken out of hockey the sport would lose popularity with fans and eventually diminish. This is why the National Hockey League will never dispose of fighting. Violence, though it is obviously very bad and causes many injuries a year, will never be lost in hockey because in the end, it is what makes people buy tickets to games. Without it, the game of hockey would eventually be led to its demise. Hockey will be forever a game involving violence and injuries, but there are other solutions to help prevent players getting injured. First is to wear a mouth guard. Sports Guards is an online source that talks about the development of the mouth guard which is made primarily for the protection of the player. When I tell people that I play hockey, nine out of ten people will ask me if I ve ever lost any teeth. The mouth guard was introduced into the game for this reason. Using a mouth guard prevents the loss of teeth and bruising in the mouth when a player is hit with excessive force. Another reason mouth guards are important in hockey is because there are researches who say that wearing a mouth guard can help prevent or lower
the severity of concussions. Though this statement is not proven and not all researches agree on the idea, you d rather be safe than sorry. Also, wearing a mouth guard in hockey is a rule at every age level, and a player who does not wear one will receive the maximum penalty for his team. Despite this, there are many players who do not wear one, which means that the players aren t educated on the benefits of wearing one. Second is an article called, How to Prevent Hockey Injuries . This article gives guidelines for the prevention all hockey injuries; there are five guidelines. The first is to make sure the player receives a physical prior to the season. This will ensure that the player is fully healthy and doesn t need to worry about an injury returning. The second is proper use of safety gear. Make sure the players are using it right and that the equipment is fully functional with no cracks, tears, or holes. The third is warm-ups. A warm-up may prevent a player from straining or hurting something. The fourth is to encourage players not to play through the pain . If a player is hurt during a game or match ensure that the player is receiving care before he steps onto the ice again. This will prevent further damage to the player if he is really hurt. Fifth, and last, is to avoid head contact with other players and the boards. Just because you re wearing a helmet does not mean you are safe out there. All of these are solutions that contribute to a player being cautious on the ice, and when a player is taking precautions they are less likely to be injured. The best solution to eliminating injuries in hockey is for players to realize that caution and vigilance in hockey can help you and the players around you be safe. In his website, Ice Hockey Injuries, Todd Schmitt goes into details of common injuries that are found in the sport of ice hockey. But what is most important is what he says at the end of his website, Some players may adopt a false sense of security, believing that they are not susceptible to injury
when wearing protective equipment. Usually, however, that's when injuries occur-when you least expect them. This is important to my argument because it shows that hockey players can indeed prevent their own injuries, while alsosupporting my thesis that hockey players experience a lack of caution while playing hockey. If players were to use caution and while on the ice injury rates could possibly decrease, making the game safer for everybody. As hockey has developed into the intense game we know today, equipment has developed as well. Protective gear is now lighter, and is proven to effectively reduce potential injury. Regulations have been made to protect players, demanding, for instance, that knee and shin pads have an outer shell instead of a soft padding as well as wrap around the entire area. At the same time however, injury rates have been rising at an unprecedented speed. Because of this my opinion, as well as the opinion of many sports medicine experts such as Todd Schmitt, is that hockey players need to be more cautious and play smart, educated hockey. In such an intense game, it is important to keep control of your emotions and play safely not only to protect yourself, but the others around you. In addition, I agree that players do not take enough precautions in hockey. Hockey players need to be constantly vigilant and cautious in the game of hockey; knowledge is sometimes more important skill in hockey. Know your surroundings, and remember that if another player doesn t have the puck or isn t prepared for a hit, don t hit him. This is an unwritten rule in hockey. In summary, hockey is a dangerous sport that if not respected and played cautiously could potentially harm any player on the ice. There has been much advancement in the game throughout the years and recently injuries seem to keep increasing in frequency. Though
hockey is by nature, an accident prone game, with simple solutions such as wearing a mouth guards, making revisions to the laws regarding head shots, and most importantly, playing protective, cautious hockey, hopefully injury rates will go down.
Bibliography Ashare, Alan E. Safety In Ice Hockey. Vol. 3. Philadelphia: AFTM, 2000. Print. "Blindside Hit Stirs Controversy in the NHL." Tuscan Citizen. TuscanCitizen.co. 10 Mar. 2010. Web. 26 Oct. 2010. Grabmeier, Jeff. "Serious Hockey Injuries Skyrocketing." Physorg.com. Ohio State University, 20 Sept.2010. Web. 5 Oct. 2010. "How to Prevent Common Hockey Injuries." EHow. Web. 12 Oct. 2010. McFadden, Ryan. "Why Fighting Needs to Stay In Hockey." Bleacher Report. 24 Jan. 2009. Web. 26 Oct. 2010. "The History of Hockey Equipment." Reebok International Ltd. Web. 6 Oct. 2010. Schmitt, Todd A. "Ice Hockey Injuries." Hughston Health Alert. Hughston Sports Medicine Foundation. Web. 5 Oct. 2010. "Sports Guards: Mouth Guard Protectors for Athletes." Dental Picture Show. DMHI, Inc, 2006. Web. 12 Oct. 2010.
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