Early bodychecking rejected by medical study

The notion that teaching hockey players to bodycheck at a young age will provide them with crucial skills to avoid injury when they are bigger and stronger needs to be put on ice, a new study suggests, reported The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, the National Post, The Toronto Sun and other major newspapers across Canada via the Canadian Press and CanWest News wire services Feb. 6. In fact, the research shows that children who start checking at 10 are twice as likely to be injured as those who are introduced to checking after the age of 14. “There is no protective effect from introducing checking at an early age,” Alison Macpherson, a professor in York’s School of Kinesiology and Health Science, said bluntly. “There is no good reason for checking to be allowed before age 14-15,” she said. “And there are plenty of reasons it shouldn’t be allowed.”

The new study, published in Monday’s edition of the medical journal Pediatrics, compares checking-related injuries among hockey players in Canada’s two most populous provinces. Ontario allows bodychecking in some atom level leagues (age 10-11) and in peewee level leagues (age 12-13). But Quebec allows bodychecking only at the bantam level (age 14-15) and higher. The Ontario Hockey Federation has insisted that its approach results in fewer injuries because children learn how to check and how to protect themselves at a young age. But the study suggests that is wrong-headed.

The figures were collected from the emergency rooms of pediatric hospitals in the two provinces, and therefore do not include minor injuries. “We’re seeing young boys come into emergency wards with fractures and concussions – significant injuries that can take weeks to heal,” said Andrew Howard, co-director of the trauma program at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and co-author of the study. The research shows that the rates of fractures and concussions are higher in all age groups in Ontario than in Quebec.

Marsden named to Order of Canada

Late on Friday, the Governor-General’s office posted on its Web site a list of 53 appointments to the Order of Canada and three promotions within the order, reported The Globe and Mail Feb. 6. Among the 38 new members are: Toronto publisher Louise Dennys; veteran Montreal sports broadcaster Richard Garneau; and Lorna Marsden, president and vice-chancellor of York University.

‘Dovish’ Martin Lockshin cited for courage

In his Canadian Jewish News column Feb. 2, Avrum Rosensweig launched the Yasher Koach (Yiddish for “way to go”) Awards (YKAs) to generate some hometown naches (pride), fun and entertainment. The YKAs are my own invention and are metaphorically presented to fellow Jews, companies or organizations who have brought spirit and growth to the Toronto Jewish community in 2005/5675/6, explained Rosensweig, who studied anthropology at York from 1983 to 1985. The YKA for Courage to Take a Stand, he said, would have to go to Martin Lockshin of York University, who regularly expresses dovish sentiments about the Middle East peace process in a generally hawkish community.

Marketing the five-blade shave

From the vantage point of moving product, the marketing behind Gillette’s new five-blade razor, Fusion, is stellar, says Alan Middleton, professor of marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business, reported the Toronto Star Feb. 5. “You have to give Gillette credit. Over the years, through constant technology improvements, they’ve been able to avoid the wet razor becoming a commodity,” he says. The improvements have made the products more difficult for competitors to copy, “so Gillette has retained its dominance.” Still, Middleton gathers from industry insiders that the difference is small, at best. “This is a case where consumers are being tempted into technology for its own sake. Especially among younger groups, if it’s newer technology, it must be better.” But consumers are “sensible,” and he predicts, “at the prices Gillette wants to charge, more and more shavers are saying, ‘No, I’ll stick with what I have.'”

Society changed. Stop. The death of the telegram

Western Union quietly killed its legendary telegram service a week ago Friday, because it no longer made financial sense to keep it going, reported the Toronto Star Feb. 5. The telegram, and its telegraph network, was for decades the world’s most important means of communication. “It was the first applicator of electricity to transmit messages,” says technology historian Dov Lungu, a professor in Atkinson’s School of Analytic Studies & Information Technology at York. Technologies don’t often die, Lungu notes. “We’re seeing the end of the telegraph period. But very often, technologies do survive, and even when they seem about to die, they adapt and find their own niche.”

A gimmick memoir

A lesbian woman writer spends 18 months passing as a man, and guess what? Each type is a performance, concluded Christine Sismondo in a Toronto Star review Feb. 5 of Self-Made Man: One Woman’s Journey Into Manhood and Back Again by Norah Vincent. Given that, of late, everybody seems to be lying about some aspect of their identity in their memoirs, it’s refreshing that Vincent isn’t lying to her readers, only to her subjects, said Sismondo, a humanities lecturer in York’s Faculty of Arts. Still, her boundaries are a little questionable. Posing as a man to date women is one thing. But then revealing your deception and wanting to carry on the relationship as a woman with several of the subjects really made me wonder about the point of the experiment, wrote Sismondo. It’s more than a little tempting to put this book in the category of the gimmick memoir. But at least Vincent is in good company there, concluded Sismondo.

  • In a visit to Fairmont Royal York to taste its extremely large and priciest cocktail, The Library Bar Side Car, the Toronto Star’s Marion Kane took along Sismondo and wrote about the experience Feb. 4. She had met Sismondo, author of the nifty new book Mondo Cocktails (McArthur & Company; $24.95), over Bloody Caesars in a CBC studio, she wrote. We were both there that jolly, free-wheeling holiday morning to talk about food, drink and whatever came up as we chatted with Jeff Goodes, host of the weekend radio show “Fresh Air”. “These are stronger than the sidecars I make,” noted Sismondo, who likes to have some kind of cocktail every evening before dinner. Cocktails, she said, are “a clear symbol of sophistication, luxury and whimsy all in one package.”