Sports Wanderings: What’s in a name?

Recently the fervour in the sports world is a move to change the “midget” level of hockey to a name that does not sound demeaning to short people or those who suffer from dwarfism.

As usual, there are those who rail against a move to be politically correct. They claim that changing the name used in hockey for umpteen years undermines all that is good and right with Canada’s national sport. Except in this case, not only is it a good idea not to insult people with a life-long medical condition, but the change also will simplify the sport for those involved.

I say this because a lot of the names ascribed to sports levels are inane in some cases, silly in others, and frankly confusing.

Take for example Peewee. In hockey, Peewee level players are 11 and 12 years old, but in basketball they are 6 and 7 years old. The novice age group in hockey takes in 7 and 8 year olds, but in many other sports novice means rookie, or a player in their first year of that sport.

In other sports, some of the names sound silly: like mosquito in baseball, or bantam in most sports. A bantam can refer to a small chicken or duck. Bantam is also used as the name of the hockey level for 13 and 14 year olds, but in lacrosse it means players 9 years old or younger.

A much simpler naming scheme would be to adopt that of soccer. Players in bantam level would be Under-15, peewee Under-13, etc.

Changing, or at least renaming the midget level of hockey, has already started. The Alberta Little Person Association is pushing Hockey Alberta to drop the term. That association is investigating possibilities. BC Hockey is also considering a name change. USA Hockey, the governing body for hockey dropped the use of “traditional” terms in 2016-17, adopting an age designation system, just as the International Ice Hockey Federation has done for many years.

Adopting an age-based naming system makes sense, and means that old terms won’t offend people further. That’s not a bad thing. It’s making a sport more welcoming to others.

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