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In the last quarter of a century, ice hockey equipment and the enforcement of rules that mandate the wearing of protective gear have greatly reduced the incidence of facial, dental, and catastrophic eye injuries. Head protection is also improved, although severe neck injuries have increased at higher levels of competition as players collide and slide with little concern for their safety or that of their opponents.
The authors review historical changes in hockey equipment, injury statistics, and game dynamics to form a basis for discussion of a comprehensive view of the effects of equipment on the game and on players. One aspect of this discussion is the serious concern that players have become invincible warriors, wearing a suit of armor, doing battle in the ice arena—that violence and aggression are part of the game. This attitude is seen by some as evidence that changes in the game of hockey, as a result of this body armor, are undesirable.
protective equipment, hockey, sport standards, winter sport safety, athletic injury, sport violence
Professor, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Sports Design, Inc., St. Paul, MN