Binette: Consequences for Insufficient Safety Equipment in Sports


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Ice hockey can be a dangerous sport between contact and sharp skates, and proper equipment is needed to keep players safe.

Lexi Binette, Junior Chief Advocate

On the significant date of Jan. 6, 2021, high school hockey player Teddy Balkind died. In a game for St. Luke’s School in Greenwich, a player from the opposing team lifted his leg in stride. At the time, Balkind was in a bent position, causing the blade of the other player’s skate to go into his neck. Balkind was rushed to the hospital and soon after, he died.

We all know that safety is one of the most important things when it comes to contact sports like football or hockey. Wearing the correct gear and following the rules is a key part of keeping yourself and other players safe.

For hockey, one of the more important aspects of safety rules is the equipment. If the proper equipment isn’t being worn, then players could be severely injured. It is required for players to wear knee pads, chest protectors, elbow pads, hockey gloves, helmets, padded pants and have properly sharpened skates.

In the incident of Balkind’s death, the requirements of the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council — the league in which many New England private prep schools compete — did not require the use of neck guards, which explains why he died. If Balkind had worn a neck guard, he may have had a higher chance of survival.

After his death, the safety rules of hockey were changed. Now, all players in Connecticut must wear neck guards and mouth guards during games. The rules for neck guards are now the same for private and public schools — as they should have been in the first place.

This situation led many to believe that things like this could happen in other sports as well.

“Safety rules are a huge aspect of sports and should always be taken seriously,” Woodbury Middle School eighth-grader and soccer player Caleigh Palmer said. “I feel if they weren’t, people would be injured, and if it was a sport like football or boxing, they could even get killed.” 

Many sports can cause injury, especially if the safety rules aren’t being taken as seriously as needed. 

Field hockey player Jadyn Heron explained how strictly she follows safety rules.

“I follow the rules and sometimes there are a few casualties from forgetting certain equipment, but other than wearing the right stuff, there really isn’t too much,” Heron said. “I think that safety rules are a very necessary requirement, especially for sports with more physical contact and safety equipment.” 

Safety is not something that should ever be taken lightly. Not following safety rules can result in major injuries and prevent people from doing some of the things that they love. For example, a former hockey player explained how he had major injuries to his knees based on how roughly he had played in games, not caring about the outcome as much as he should have, and now he can’t play hockey anymore. 

Not following safety rules can affect anyone. The real question here should be, is anyone really willing to face these consequences?

This is the opinion of Lexi Binette, a Woodbury Middle School eighth-grader writing for the Junior Chief Advocate.