TORONTO — The Canadian Lacrosse Association is the latest domestic sport federation to consider dropping the term ‘midget’ from its youth category classification system.
The move comes after a number of sport associations from across the country, including hockey, football and athletics, announced similar plans. CLA executive director Jane Clapham said the topic of division names will be discussed by its board next year.
The Canadian Press first contacted the CLA for comment last month as other organizations announced plans to consider dropping the term, which many consider to be a derogatory slur. The Little People of Canada also recently reached out to the organization to inquire about a possible change.
“The CLA just received a letter from LPC this week requesting removing the term ‘midget’ from our age classification,” Clapham said in an email. “While this was not on our radar prior to receiving your communication this topic will be on the agenda for discussion at our next board of directors meeting in early 2019.”
The age for midget players can vary depending on the sport. In lacrosse, the level is primarily for players in the age 15-16 category.
In hockey, traditional youth age group names like novice, peewee, atom, bantam and midget could be revised sometime in the new year. BC Hockey appears to be leading the charge, as the organization has directed staff to make recommendations for new names for its membership.
If approved by its board, the changes could be brought forward for consideration to the Hockey Canada membership for potential national implementation. Other regional hockey associations have said they were also planning reviews.
Many international hockey organizations use age categories (U13, U15, U17, for example) and it’s likely that Canadian associations would follow suit if changes occur.
The Ontario Basketball Association said last month that it would take steps to drop the ‘midget’ term, a move supported by Canada Basketball, which already uses age descriptors. A few days later, Athletics Canada said it would pursue the elimination of the term and Football Canada said it planned to review the subject.
Little People of Canada president Allan Redford said the term originates from the oppression and exploitation of people with dwarfism in freak shows in the mid-1800s. He welcomed the development with the CLA and is hopeful there will be change in the new year.
“It’s just one step closer to that acceptance, awareness, and bottom line — dignity — for our community of people with dwarfism,” Redford said Friday.
The OBA made changes after hearing from Regina Scott of Guelph, Ont., who has a two-year-old son with dwarfism. She helped make a change at her local youth basketball association after noticing the term on a banner at a mall.
“We’re trying to gain control over that m-word so that we can assert our right to self-identification,” Redford said. “As I’ve said before, ultimately it makes sense to treat others as you’d want to be treated and that comes down to dignity and respect.”