MITCHELL’S MUSINGS: Hitting delete button on hockey traditions

Midget hockey will be no more, but what’s next?

It’s been a tough week for hockey fans.

First, 85-year-old Don Cherry and Coach’s Corner is erased from the history books 48 hours after his fumbled and apparently divisive appeal to wear poppies, and now minor hockey is getting in on the politically correct act.

If you’re hoping your kid may play in the 50th annual Vernon Coca-Cola Classic Pee Wee Hockey Tournament next season, think again.

Or perhaps he’s older and was shooting for the famous Mac’s Midget AAA World Invitational Tournament in Calgary. Nope.

Those famous tournaments will still be around in 2021, of course, but Hockey Canada has just decided to get rid of traditional division names like midget, bantam, peewee, atom and novice, so famous tournaments will have to change their names accordingly.

Maybe I can get used to the Vernon Coca-Cola Classic U13 Hockey Tournament, but I don’t know. After five decades, a name has a certain ring, a charm, and history to it, don’t you think?

You know what’s ironic? I’ve been wondering what Grapes (i.e. Don Cherry) thinks of this latest development.

I’m torn between OMG and LMAO, to use modern shortcuts, as I struggle to come to grips with organizations struggling to come with grips with our modern world.

In our desperate attempts not to offend, we go to ridiculous extremes that make you want to cry and laugh simultaneously.

“We want to be an inclusive brand, we want to be an inclusive sport, we want to be an inclusive organization,” said Mark Halliday, Hockey Canada vice-president of marketing and communications, in a Canadian Press story.

Gee Mark, congratulations, you managed to get the word “inclusive” in the same sentence three times. That must be some kind of “marketing” record and certainly “communicates” to us dummy hockey types that it’s best for “all of us” whether we know it or not.

Right, so throw out our colourful, time-tested and beloved hockey tradition for a soulless number system in order to be “inclusive”?

Now as I understand it, the midget category — ironically the oldest and therefore tallest — is the one targeted by lobby groups as it’s also a derogatory word used to describe height-challenged people.

I do get that and maybe it’s time to retire that moniker after all these years if it offends that much.

But why throw out the whole naming system for one designation? While I don’t know exactly how all the divisions came to be named, they all mean small in some way.

It’s almost as if someone with a sense of humour, and a little irony (both much lacking in these modern times), was just trying to come up with different labels to describe different ages of, well, our kids.

In fact, when I played hockey (and my kids did too, so you know my bias — which may have been evident by now) the first two divisions were pup and senior pup, which again, are small things, and actually a lot better names than novice and atom.

I’m not sure why they got rid of pup and senior pup, except maybe the pet lobby didn’t want to be associated with all that bad skating, especially on my part. And senior pup is kind of unintentionally funny, after all how can a pup be senior?

And if we’re going to come totally clean, I guess, especially if you’re taking a cold shower at the old Civic Arena, peewee can be used as a derogatory term as well.

Anyway, not to be a squealer, but some other minor sports may still have names for categories.

If we’re going to delete all of our sports traditions we might as well go all the way. I have no doubt we will.

Glenn Mitchell is a columnist and former editor of The Morning Star.

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