I guess the best way to introduce this topic is by telling a quick story from about 25-years ago…
Ya, it was about that long ago when two of my long-time hockey school students had their throats slashed by hockey skate blades. (Can you believe that? !!!) Thank God neither accident occurred on my watch. No, the younger of the two was doing belly flops during his youth team’s practice when he fell — neck first — onto the skate of a teammate. The older boy had an opponent’s skate fly up and across his neck and chest in the middle of a high school hockey game. Thank God again, because both boys’ lives were saved because a nurse was watching the youth hockey practice, and an EMT were right there at the game site.
Those two events were covered — big time — in Boston area newspapers and on TV stations, and they were surely the topic of conversation among parents, coaches and administrators at local rinks. Ya, it scared all of us, and I think most of us felt rather helpless — thinking that something like that could happen to our own kids.
Now, not much different from today, I mixed a lot back in those days with hockey people from all over the world. And I was already familiar with a guy up in Ontario, Canada who was producing collars that were supposed to help protect the throat area. So, in a mad scramble, I arranged to have some of those (Kim Crouch Collars) hurriedly shipped down here to the Boston area, just in case other local hockey parents were as concerned as I was about their kids sustaining such an injury.
Okay, so if you haven’t guessed it by now, I kinda got the guilties about promoting those things. I mean, I didn’t want to take advantage of folks’ fears — or seem like I was, so a went a little easy on getting the word out. Said yet another way, I was awful at promoting the collars, which really did jeopardize numerous kids’ safety for a time (or until others got the word out better).
As an aside here… You might find it interesting that I promote CoachChic.com like crazy. Hey, those who are really into hockey can either take or leave the advice I offer there. I feel the same about the so-called hard-to-find hockey products I make available over at Hockey Tips and Tricks. Really, I’m just letting hockey people know those things are there. (Maybe part of the reason I don’t get the guilties about promoting those sites is because I actually give away a lot of free stuff if one visits.)
Anyway… Fast-forward to the past few years, and several Boston TV news outlets have scared us sports parents all the more with the number of young athletes who have sustained serious spinal cord injuries. It happened to two different high school hockey players last winter, and I guess a big-time college football player is also wheelchair bound from a hit he took in a game. Of course, most hockey folks are familiar with the Travis Roy story — about the budding Boston University star who had his life changed in an instant just because of a freak fall into the rink’s side boards.
In almost every instance, serious neck or spinal cord injuries result from a player colliding with an opponent or the boards with his or her head held down — hence the USA Hockey mantra, “Heads up, don’t duck!”
Oh, if only there was a simple device that prevented contact sport players — especially those in hockey and football — from being able to drop the head as they move into a hit. Oh, if only…
Well, what I discovered is that there IS such a device. In fact, it is simple, lightweight and easy to wear, and hardly noticeable on the player.
What happened is that a football guy from Ohio called one day to describe his device to me, and to ask me if I thought it sounded like something that would help protect hockey players. (Are you kidding me? !!!)
I jumped on that in an instant, as you might imagine. But then… But then… There came those old guilties. I felt awful promoting something based on a parent’s fears.
The old guilties hit me again about 6-months ago, this time because the latest hot topic in the news had to do with a number of teenagers committing suicide after experiencing “bullying”. Man, talk about something sad.
Once again, though, I was far ahead of things, having promoted a number of self-help programs produced by a top sport psychologist, among them Dr Patrick Cohn’s program for better arming our kids against bullying. Oh, and once again I also experienced the guilties. Ya, I found it funny how easy it was for me to promote Dr Cohn’s other programs, like “The Composed Sports Kid”. But when it came to helping those with concerns for bullying, well…
Anyway, you’ll notice that I didn’t link to any of the above products, on purpose. Naw, the reason I’m writing you today is to ask your input (hey, besides typical moms and dads and coaches who might be reading this, there might even be a shrink who’d be willing to counsel an old hockey coach in such a matter). I mean, just what do you think a guy like me ought to do — to get over the guilties, I mean?