Craig GreenhamKinesiology professor Craig Greenham helps lead a research team exploring team tragedy in youth hockey.

Hockey needs to better address team trauma, kinesiology researcher says

Hockey organizations need to do a better job addressing the psychological impacts of team trauma, writes kinesiology professor Craig Greenham in a recent article in the Conversation.

Dr. Greenham cites the recent on-ice death of hockey player Adam Johnson, who was cut in the neck by another player’s skate blade during a game in Sheffield, England. Some leagues started requiring players to wear neck guards, but what are they doing to address “unseen injuries,” Greenham asks.

“Traditionally, hockey culture — the norms and behaviours that guide the sport — has shown a preference for attributes like mental toughness over emotional vulnerability,” Greenham writes. “This practice can damage athletes when they’re confronted with traumatic events, which are more frequent than many realize.”

Using the 1986 bus crash that claimed the lives of four Swift Current Broncos hockey players as a launching point, Greenham and fellow researchers Todd Loughead, Owen Bravo, Joe Miller, and Shaun Smith have been trying to understand team tragedy and how to improve psychological supports in youth hockey. One solution, Greenham says, is for Hockey Canada to create a mental health unit that can be deployed across the country when tragedy hits.

Read Greenham’s article in the Conversation. The publication is an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community.

—Sarah Sacheli

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