Last week, The Canadian Press reported that BC Hockey and Hockey Canada were considering making changes to the traditional age group names, which include Midget, Bantam, and Atom.
Initially, I assumed it was because the term midget wasn’t an appropriate one to use anymore, so it should no longer be used to classify hockey teams. However, it’s also because the current classification system used in hockey has always been confusing and this would be a good time to switch to age-based system like the one used in soccer.
I know the first thing many people who read this will do is roll their eyes, as those that I’ve already talked to have. But here’s the thing — it makes a lot of sense.
In the discussion regarding the changing of professional sports names such as Redskins and Eskimos, at least the argument can be made that those names are tied in some way to the monetary value of the team. Right or wrong, the name and logos are what fans identify with as much as anything else. There’s also the nostalgia factor, and it’s on all the merchandise and memorabilia.
In the case of calling a team of 15 to 17-year-olds a midget hockey team, that isn’t the case. No revenue is derived from this, there’s no nostalgia of being called a midget, and it doesn’t make sense.
Seriously, you know how long it took me to figure out if 15-year-olds were bantams or midgets? A long time, and truthfully, I’m still not really sure.
I’ll admit, calling teams U15 can be a bit confusing too. Does that mean the kids are all under the age of 15, or 15 and under? But at least it’s an acceptable term and not offensive in any way.
There’s also the case that they could have chosen better words in the first place. If BC Hockey does indeed switch to a different system, but doesn’t go with actual ages in the names, what words could be used? I haven’t figured out why kids are called atoms because I spent most of my life thinking the term was “Adams”. I personally think Rangers would be a sweet term, and that the minor baseball classification of Mosquito, while not knowing what it means, sounds pretty cool too.
I have heard many people say that they’ve never even thought of the terms that way, but I have. I feel weird every time I go to write about a group of 16-year-old hockey players, and I think it will be changed eventually. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of outrage either way, which is why this seems inevitable.
There’s no doubt the world is changing rapidly, and the trend of being politically correct is a force to be reckoned with, right or wrong. Nobody’s ever accused me of being a member of the P.C. Police, that’s for sure, but sometimes, these things don’t need to be so difficult. Every once and a while, we can say, “OK, that makes sense, let’s change the team names.”
We can even compromise. Let’s do a word and an age. Seriously, the Fort St. John U18 Laser Flyers. Who says no?
Dillon Giancola covers Peace Region sports for the Alaska Highway News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.