Charting some of the changes in two very popular Canadian sports

Charting some of the changes in two very popular Canadian […]

Charting some of the changes in two very popular Canadian sports

Changing laws to make sport safer has been happening in many sports… with the health of the athletes in mind. We present here some of those changes in association with stairlift stockist Acorn Stairlifts, and reveal the changes to of the most popular sports in Canada have made for safety reasons…


Its well known that many Canadians love hockey. In fact they have played it from the 1800’s until today, and they play it all year at every level. Nationally Canada holds a cup for juniors and one for seniors, the Allan and Memorial cup respectively. they also hold competitions all over Canada tiered as divisions!

People are forgiven for claiming the sport is dangerous. Their are collisions, its played a fast pace! Data shows some alarming facts though! From 2014 to 2015 Canadian hockey had 2929 head trauma cases which were brought to hospital for emergency treatment, in just Ontario and Alberta! The research for this was compiled by the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Parallel to this a total of 1575 emergency hospital treatment cases were recorded for ball hits and out of that number American Football or Rugby accounted for 1,466 of those!

It comes as no surprise today that the administrators are focusing on making the game safer. An area of focus which has been studied is Helmets which should be reducing brain traumas! Carolyn Emery who heads a research team at and is 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 investigating precisely the effect of helmet fit on brain trauma. One intriguing result from the research is bringing focus onto the role of mouthguards in bringing down the incidence of concussion!

further to this a remarkable innovation has occurred and that is a device whose makers have said is specifically designed to get more blood into the brains of players. Its called the dai by Bauer and is neck collar!

Hockey Canada, who administer the sport are working very hard to raise awareness of the importance of safety in hockey. Vice-President of Membership Development Paul Carson has pointed out and emphasised that when it comes to head hits and from behind checks that Hockey Coanada will show no tolerance. Paul also encourages playing confidently and working on skills like agility and carrying the puck with the head held high.

Paul has also focused on the role of respect for others in Hockey in Canada and that everyone involved in the sport can contribute to this at all levels whether directly coaching or as a fan or player etc. Regarding this very sentiment the Co-Director of the Concussion Centre based at the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto, Nick Reed, 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 synonymous with Canada with many people playing and enjoying the sport as both the field and box styles. A national sport of Canada since 1859 becoming the Canadian summer sport in 1994, there are a duo of competitions reflecting the two variations. They are the National Lacrosse League (for box style) lacrosse and Major League Lacrosse (for the field style). They both hold competitions for juniors and seniors too.

People who watch and play Lacrosse often say, “its so fast, and its really aggressive”. Administrators have noted these comments and this has led to thinking and working on new laws and gear to make Lacrosse safer… particularly in North America.

2012 saw a change which is arguably the biggest but certainly one of the most important changes in Lacrosse ever. In 2012 in North America the administrators made it a rule that both teams had to have a “man down” at every end of the field rather than just behind the restraining line! Motivated by increasing existing penalty credibility and to reduce the incidence of card-worthy fouls — particularly unsafe checks — occuring during matches.

the rule was widely supported… with a 20 year college veteran referee Pat Dillon who is a member of the NCAA women’s lacrosse rules committee said the rule would certainly “discourage players from committing cardable fouls”, and then the coach of Towson, Sonia LaMonica commented, “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.”

Again in North America, new lacrosse balls were researched, designed and tested with the specific aim of maing the sport safer, and this was carried out by the US Lacrosse organisation. NOCSAE laws which determine the allowed pressure to be used in making Lacrosse balls smaller by 75% for playing with, were integral to the new rules. Consequently, since 2015 the new range of pressure allowed is 110 and 210 pounds of pressure. However the idea of even stricter pressure protocols has been muted, even between 115 and 150 pounds.

The Director of Health and Safety for US Lacrosse, Bruce Griffin, 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.”

After testing at High School level the new balls were approved in June 2016 and introduced to Lacrosse in July 2017

Changes have also been occurring in Canada conducted by Canadian Lacrosse Association before the season commenced in 2013. these changes addressed act of violent conflict between participants and specifically the referring of such altercations. The changes meant that as well as an automatic game misconduct participants who have been deemed the violent aggressors are awarded a further five-minute major. Mitigating circumstances include if the violence was committed in a counter active fashion so defensively or if an aggressor penalty is called on the play.

This change was about making Lacrosse safer and more enjoyable to play. Whitby Warriors Junior A program coach said, “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.”