‘It really is a negative word’: Support rolls in after Hockey Canada changes minor age group names

After Hockey Canada announced its choice to change to an age-specific leveling system instead of the current format, support began rolling in.

The organization is dropping its long-time level terms: which included bantam, peewee, atom, and most importantly, midget.

The decision came after concerns were raised with the word and its derogatory background.

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Theresa Saunders is a small person and has dealt with being called slurs like midget her whole life.

“Using a word like midget in a sports team, in a classroom, or in any scenario where it’s okay to use it gives them permission to call us that in public,” Saunders said.

“It really is a negative word.”

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That’s why Saunders began pushing for hockey to follow many other sports across the country, and drop the name from its leveling system.

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“I think it’s pretty much phased out, hockey was pretty much the last place that was using it,” said Saunders. “I think that’s why the big push, that’s one reason we were pushing to get it out of hockey.”

Officials with Hockey Calgary say they are all for the adjustment.

“I think the soccer programs have been doing this for some time,” Kevin Kobelka, executive director for Hockey Calgary said.

“I believe U.S. hockey dropped it, and I think overseas some of those naming conventions have been (dropped) there,

“I think it is a sign of the times, but also an alignment to hockey globally,” Kobelka said.

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Global News spoke with players lacing up their skates for a recreational hockey game at the Max Bell Arena and for most, the feeling is mutual.

“I don’t have an issue with it, it makes sense,” Jay Reid said.

“I’ve got no problem with the changes,” Don Young said. “If it’s a simpler way of describing the age categories, I think that’s fine.”

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Hockey Canada said the changes are set to be implemented for the 2020/21 hockey season.