On Monday, 7/6/2020, we had the go ahead to reopen and were excited to get started with games that evening. Unfortunately, late on the same day we received new guidance from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that categorized ice hockey in a way that does not permit games at this time. Although we now find ourselves back in an area of uncertainty.
The latest categorization is restrictive in the way that does not distinguish between contact and non-contact ice hockey. We and others throughout the hockey community believe that this was an oversight and that a catch all decision has been made based upon the risks of full contact hockey.
As a result, members of the hockey community and rink industry in Massachusetts have asked state administrators to distinguish between contact hockey and non-contact hockey. Specifically, the Commonwealth has been asked to place non-contact hockey in the same category as non-contact lacrosse, field hockey, and volleyball, all of which have already been allowed to resume games. This seems to be a more appropriate categorization than where it is now, alongside sports such as full contact football, wrestling, and full contact lacrosse.
What Happens Next
We remain confident in state government and their position to make decisions based on data and resources that only they have. We believe their decisions are being be made with the best interest of everyone in the Commonwealth in mind. We also realize that there is an overwhelming amount of industries in the Commonwealth that they are assigning risk to. Like hockey, many of those have differences and sub-categories that result in greatly differing risk factors. We believe that the risk factors for ice hockey are most similar to those of sports that have already been allowed to resume games.
A decision that recategorizes non-contact hockey could come any day and would allow us to start games immediately. We’re hoping that this is the case, so as of now we still have games scheduled for as soon as next week. Another possibility is the clearance for ice hockey’s current category to begin scrimmages, such as our Standard Games, which would come in phase 3, part 2, in the coming weeks. However, if neither were to occur, all games would be further delayed without certainty of when they could resume. In any case where we do not have approval to hold games, we’ll delay or cancel them on a week by week basis.
What You Can Do To Help
Below are some actions that you can take to help get us back on the ice, reduce the long-term impact to our sport, and prevent the potential for closure that many ice rinks will face. Our goal is to bring attention to the fact that contact ice hockey carries much different risk factors than non-contact hockey, and drive a reassessment by the experts and administrators of the most appropriate categorization for non-contact hockey.
This petition is geared towards letting kids play non-contact hockey, which we are in full support of. We also believe that it will bring to light the difference in risk between contact and non-contact ice hockey as a whole.
Let your state administrators and legislators know that it’s vital that contact and non-contact ice hockey be individually categorized due to their differing risk, and that non-contact ice hockey should be included in the same category as sports that have already been allowed to restart games, such as field hockey and non-contact lacrosse. If you’re unsure of who your legislators are, you can look them up online.