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Youth Hockey Site Rethinks Rating Teams of Children

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A web site that has shaped youth hockey in the USA and Canada partially by rating 1000’s of teams across each countries on a weekly basis has announced that it’s going to stop the practice on the youngest levels of competition.

Neil Lodin, the founding father of MYHockey Rankings, said on its website on Wednesday that the platform would now not assign a numerical rank to groups of kids under 12, explaining that rankings contributed to an unhealthy approach to the sport by adults.

“Youth sports have turn into a rat race to the highest amongst parents, coaches and clubs,” Lodin wrote. “There’s this ‘In case you aren’t maintaining with the Joneses, do you even love your kid?’ mentality on the market.

“The youth hockey community isn’t immune from these issues,” his message stated. “And let’s be honest, rankings are a contributing factor after they’re utilized in a negative and exclusionary manner as a substitute of as a training tool and scheduling resource.”

In December 2021, MYHockey Rankings and its influence were the topic of an article in The Latest York Times. Ken Martel, the director of player development for U.S.A. Hockey, the game’s governing body, said within the article that he feared the load given to rankings by some parents, coaches and youth hockey associations had a harmful effect on player development and the fee of playing the sport.

The web site’s ability to cull and crunch an array of statistical data on 1000’s of teams spanning age groups 9 to 18 has made it an indispensable resource for a lot of within the youth hockey community.

At its core is a complicated algorithm that predicts a team’s “performance rating” and the goal differential of any game it’d play against any opponent within the database. Coaches and tournament directors routinely use the web site to discover teams which might be projected to be evenly matched, and schedule games accordingly.

But critics have contended that the web site’s ancillary practice of assigning a numerical rank to groups has fueled a primal instinct amongst too many youth hockey stakeholders to climb the rankings ladder in a never-ending game of one-upmanship.

In an interview, Lodin said the web site would proceed to supply the core data that helped inform scheduling decisions — like win-loss records, game results and other statistics — while eliminating the rankings for its youngest teams. The location ranked roughly 3,000 teams of kids under 12 years old throughout the most up-to-date hockey season.

“We’re taking motion that we predict makes users more more likely to use the location as intended, as a tool to assist teams schedule appropriate levels of competition, versus the detriment of hockey,” Lodin said.

Tom Farrey, the chief director of the Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Program, whom Lodin credited with posing the concept of eliminating rankings while retaining the information that helps teams find well-matched competition, called the move “a step in the best direction.”

“It sends the message that development is more essential than comparing kids and teams who’re still within the early stages of growth,” Farrey said.

Martel, of U.S.A. Hockey, applauded the event.

“It will hopefully relieve a few of the pressure a bit,” he said. “We’re a late-developing sport. One of the best young kids aren’t the very best kids afterward. No one knows who’s really good until after puberty.”

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