Teen Hockey Players Risking Injury in Locker Room 'Game'

'Helmets and gloves' is prevalent and dangerous form of boxing, experts say

FRIDAY, June 2, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Many teen hockey and lacrosse players take part in a dangerous fighting game called "helmets and gloves" that goes beyond horseplay to cause concussion and other serious injuries.

One expert warns that this activity needs to be halted through proper policy and monitoring of teen athletes before more serious injuries occur.

"Helmets and gloves" is also called "locker boxing" or "helmet boxing." Two players box while wearing their helmets and gloves. Only punches to the head are allowed. The fight ends when one player gives up or has his or her helmet knocked off.

Teens view the game as a "time-honored test of manhood," or as a test of the toughness required to play hockey or lacrosse, wrote Dr. Kevin Gordon of Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. He authored an editorial on the subject in the May/June issue of the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine.

In the article, he described three hockey players, aged 13 to 15, who suffered probable or definite concussions caused by playing helmet and gloves. One of the players was a girl. Some of the injuries suffered by the three teens went undetected for days, weeks, or months because of secrecy on the part of the teens and their teammates.

Teens may feel they're not at risk for injury, especially since they're wearing protective equipment, Gordon noted. In some cases, helmets and gloves may be considered a form of hazing. Due to secrecy on the part of players, it's difficult to estimate how often they play the game, but anecdotal evidence suggests it's common.

To address the problem, parents and coaches need to educate teens about the dangers of helmets and gloves, Gordon and his co-authors said. Hockey and lacrosse leagues and organizations should review and enforce policies prohibiting this kind of behavior.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has information about teen sports and exercise safety.

Robert Preidt

Robert Preidt

Published on June 02, 2006

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