By Ken Reed

Hockey Championship Ends in Tie for Safety Reasons

This year’s state high school championship hockey game in Ohio was declared a 1-1 tie after seven overtime periods for safety reasons.

The decision was made after conversations between Dan Ross, commissioner of the Ohio High School Athletic Association and the athletic directors from both schools. Ohio high school rules don’t allow for shootouts which are used to end prolonged ties at many levels of hockey, including the Olympics and NHL.

“During the conversations, the safety and health of the kids rose to the top, and that made the decision very easy,” Ross said.

At the time of the decision, the fans and players wanted to keep playing but some feelings mellowed after a couple days of reflection.

“I was upset they stopped the game,” said David Marsh, a participant in the game. “I wanted to keep playing. That changed today. I realized I’m a state champion.”

The administrators made the right call. Now they need to work on putting a shootout in the state rules in order to prevent a similar situation in the future.

Companies Trying to Develop Impact Sensors for Brain Safety

Reebok and other companies are working hard to develop impact sensors that could eventually be commonplace in collision sports like hockey, football and soccer. The sensors measure the force of an impact to the head.

The question is do they do any good?

Experts say the new tools are imprecise and insufficient by themselves to indicate a concussion. The other major problem with relying too much on these sensors is the fact that an impact that leaves one player concussed may have little effect on another. Also, younger athletes can respond to hits in a different way than adults because their necks aren’t as strong. The whiplash effect of a hit that would be relatively mild for an adult can result in a concussion for a 13-year-old.

“There is not a known threshold for concussions,” said Kevin Guskiewicz, an exercise and sports science professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who studies concussions. “Parents are going to buy a product that’s potentially going to protect their kid, but it can be very misleading. The science hasn’t evolved to the point where we can interpret these metrics.”

That’s the big issue here. Corporate marketers will sell these devices as making collision sports safer. It’s similar to what some football helmet manufacturers have done in the past with safety claims for their helmets. Those claims have been threatened by lawsuits and the testimonies of medical experts.

Parents and coaches beware. First of all, these sensors don’t prevent the collisions that lead to concussions; and second, the readings may give players, coaches and parents a false sense of confidence.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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