Two Canadian sports that have developed over the years…

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Two Canadian sports that have developed over the years…

It has been the case for many years that sports have isolated safety improvement opportunities and implemented well thought through changes aimed at improving the safety of athletes and fans. In this article with stairlift stockist Acorn Stairlifts we explore just two of the most popular Canadian sports have changed effectively and made their sports safer.


Canadians have enjoyed hockey really from the 19th century, and its actually played in Canada all year across various levels. Nationally the Memorial Cup  and Allan Cup for junior and senior competitors to play to win, and Canada actually has competitions played across the country conduction in a divisional hierarchy.

Many people watch and play hockey and very quickly realize that their are hazards whilst playing. This includes brain injuries, (as shown by statistics from the Canadian Institute for Health Information) with research showing nearly 3,000 instances of brain injury requiring emergency hospitalisation in 2 years (2014/2015). That was in just Ontario and Alberta! In contrast only 1575 cases of emergency hospitalisation across multi sports including 1,466 from completely different sports, rugby and American Football!

Thankfully, the people involved in the sport of hockey and supporting it medically are working very hard to remedy this situation. A key area of focus is the protective clothing and crucially helmets which are supposed to protect individuals from head traumas, which they do but can more be done? Carolyn Emery, the Chair of the Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre and the Associate Dean of Research for the faculty of kinesiology at the University of Calgary is heading up a team which is researching the effectiveness of the helmets as concussion protective devices. Continuing study is also revealing that mouthguards are somehow involved in lowering concussion risk!

Added to this in 2017 a collar device called the dai by Bauer was brought into the sport and incredibly that item which is neck worn elevates the amount of blood in the brain and the producers of this item have stated that the goal of the dai by Bauer is to provide protection for the brain structure.

Governing bodies such as Hockey Canada are constantly drawing focus to safety. types of play are being identified as potential contributors to injury. Vice-President of Membership Development Paul Carson has specifically focused on hits and checks from behind as areas where there is zero tolerance and that players should focus on core skills like standing straight up while on the ice as a puck carrier, and developing their agility and personal confidence while skating.

Paul Carson encourages an ethos of respect amongst everyone involved in Hockey. Agreeing with this sentiment, Nick Reed, Co-Director of the Concussion Centre based at the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto said, “We still see in arenas all around this country big loud cheers for the big hits rather than for the nice pass or the nice goal. If we can start to have young kids respect their own brains and the brains of others, I think we can make some significant headway.”


Lacrosse is also love on Canada with thousands of people playing the box and the field variants of Lacrosse. Whilst the sport is currently the summertime sport of Canada it was actually the national sport in 1859! The National Lacrosse League (for the Box variant) & Major League Lacrosse (for the field variant) are the competitions for each variant in Canada and they provide competition for both adult and child participants.

Having said that, it only takes one to watch Lacrosse to see that its very fast and is played with tremendous gusto by the players in Canada. Fortunately the administrators are constantly assessing the current safety position and how to make positive changes to make the sport safer, incorporating both design of equipment and even changing laws and they are actually really focused on innovating in North America Canada’s neighbouring country.

A really big change took place in North America in 2012! its the Man down innovation being applied to both ends of the playing area rather than just behind the restraining line. this development brought the occurance rate of fouls requiring a card down, which is statistically measurable, and this innovation also added transparency to penalties and was aimed very much at the number of un-safe checks during games.

Support was widespread for the innovation around the man-down rule. A very experienced (20 years as a college referee) referee (Pat Dillon) stated that the change would “discourage players from committing cardable fouls”. Further Sonia LaMonica (Towson coach) said, “I love it. In order for the game to get safer, there needs to be high penalties. Having to play man down on the offensive end or the defensive end is, I think, more consistent with the penalty.”

Lacrosse administrators are even looking at the balls used in the sport to see can they be designed to be safer! A new design emerged and was tested, and the NOCSAE regulations which governs ball interior air pressure laws has implemented strict laws that (since April 2015) the pressure used to shrink the ball to 25% of its diameter must fall somewhere from 110 to 210 lbs of pressure and they even wanted to make this between 115 and 150lbs of pressure.

Regarding the effect of this Bruce Griffin, the Director of Health and Safety for US Lacrosse, stated: “It has the same weight and the same bounce, but the balls built to the new NOCSAE standard have up to a 40 per cent reduction in the transfer of energy forces.”

the balls were tested (in high schools), they were passed as fit for use and in June 2016 they received official backing they were first used July 2017.

Meanwhile… in Canada, rules were changed. In 2013 changes were made to the referring of violence between competitors, with players receiving a five-minute major on top of an automatic game misconduct if they are judged to have been committing acts of violence against other players, with the stipulation that self defence mitigates as does the calling of an aggressor penalty.

this law regarding violence is designed to make the game safer and to make it a more enjoyable spectacle for fans and in fact the players too, people commented on the change, for example Derek Keenan, the coach of the Whitby Warriors Junior A program, saying: “I think it eliminates the goofy staged fighting … Emotion and reactionary fights are one thing, but the centre-floor, peel-off-all-the-gear kind of fights, I don’t think it really does anything for our game, to be honest, so I am in favour of it.

“I honestly think it’s a good rule. Our game is moving in another direction.”


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