In both Canada and Sweden, hockey players are required to use neck guards when they are on the ice. The United States does not have a similar mandate, and the lack of a neck guard may have contributed to the death of a sophomore in high school.
According to the New York Times, the player was involved in an on-ice collision when the opposing player’s skate made contact with his neck and cut it. It is not clear if a neck guard would have preserved his life, but the governing body of high school hockey, U.S.A. Hockey does not require that they be worn.
Unorganized, patchwork policies may be dangerous
Oversight boards and individual hockey associations create local policies regarding safety for high school hockey play. Schools are at times governed by different groups, which can lead to confusion about what is required and what is not.
Even though it is not mandated that hockey players wear neck guards, it is recommended that one be worn whenever a player is on the ice. The governing body plans to address a possible mandate regarding neck guards at the next meeting.
Online petition gains momentum
After the teen’s death, most than 63,000 people shared their desire for mandatory neck guards through an online petition. While cuts are not common in ice hockey, they happen enough that a mandate may be necessary to keep kids safe. Research on the issue is sparse and not strong enough to give a definitive answer, but there are incidents in professional hockey as far back as the 70s where players were cut on the ice. Appropriate equipment and safety measures are vital when it comes to keeping kids safe.