It’s early in the 2023-24 minor hockey season and many players and their parents are adjusting to a new Hockey Canada policy.
This season, all minor hockey players are encouraged to wear the base layer they wear under their equipment in the arena. If they don’t, they will have to put on their base layer inside a closed bathroom on the track.
The new policy attempts to promote inclusion and respect the privacy of all participants on a team. It is now the responsibility of all coaches and team staff to instruct players on the minimum dress rule and ensure that they comply with it.
“All participants have the right to use the locker room or an appropriate and equivalent locker room environment based on their gender identity, religious beliefs, body image concerns and/or other reasons related to their individual needs,” the spokeswoman said. Hockey Canada, Esther Madziya, in a statement emailed to Breaking:.
Until it becomes part of a player’s routine, there will likely be some confusion at the beginning of the season as both young players and their parents get used to the new policy.
“It really doesn’t take long to jump in a bathroom and do a quick change to put on your base layer underneath,” said Craig Robinson, president of Halifax Hawks Minor Hockey. “Plus, these are fairly thin garments that often fit under a jacket or shirt anyway.”
Robinson outlined the new policy in a letter sent to parents of Halifax Hawks players last week.
The new policy affects all minor hockey players from the youngest level up to the under-18 division.
“It’s not just about gender, it’s about everyone feeling comfortable,” Robinson said. “Coaches can’t always visually identify and automatically know what gender someone identifies as, so this allows everyone to fit into that locker room.”
Robinson admits there has been some opposition from parents to Hockey Canada’s change. He says they have legitimate hygiene concerns when it comes to sweaty, smelly underwear being worn to and from the rink. But he says it’s a small price to pay to ensure hockey is inclusive for everyone.