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Examining Attitudes Toward Body Checking, Levels of Emotional Empathy, and Levels of Aggression in Body Checking and Non-Body Checking Youth Hockey Leagues

Emery, Carolyn A PhD*; McKay, Carly D MSc*; Campbell, Tavis S PhD; Peters, Alexis N PhD

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: May 2009 - Volume 19 - Issue 3 - p 207-215
doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e31819d658e
Original Research

Objectives: To determine if attitudes associated with body checking, emotional empathy, and aggression differ between players in body checking and non-body checking hockey leagues and to determine the influence of these attitudes on injury rates.

Design: Prospective cohort.

Setting: Participants were randomly recruited by team from the Calgary Minor Hockey Association at the beginning of the 2006-2007 season.

Participants: There were 283 participants from Pee Wee (aged 11-12 years), Bantam (aged 13-14 years), and Midget (aged 15-16 years) teams. Of 13 teams from the body checking league, 138 players participated, and of 24 teams in the non-body checking league, 145 players participated.

Assessment of Risk Factors: Participants completed 4 self-report questionnaires: (1) Medical Questionnaire, (2) Body Checking Questionnaire, (3) Empathy Index for Children and Adolescents, and (4) Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire.

Main Outcome Measures: Participants were followed through the season for injury reports. The injury definition included any hockey injury resulting in medical attention, the inability to complete a hockey session, and/or missing a subsequent hockey session.

Results: Body checking players reported more positive attitudes toward body checking (35.59; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 34.52-36.65) than non-body checking players (22.43; 95% CI, 21.38-23.49; t = −17.34; P < 0.00005). There was no significant difference in the empathy scores between cohorts (t = 1.51, P = 0.13). The mean aggression score for the body checking players (76.22; 95% CI, 73.18-79.25) was significantly higher than the mean for the non-body checking players (70.57; 95% CI, 67.35-73.80; t = −2.52; P = 0.013).

Conclusions: Body checking seems to influence attitudes toward body checking and aggression, but attitudes toward body checking, empathy, and aggression did not influence injury rates.

From the *Sport Medicine Centre, Roger Jackson Centre for Health and Wellness Research, Faculty of Kinesiology; and †Department of Psychology, University of Calgary; and ‡Faculty of Arts, Department of Sociology/Anthropology, Mount Royal College, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Submitted for publication August 5, 2008; accepted January 19, 2008.

Funding for this research was provided by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research.

Reprints: Dr. Carolyn Emery, PhD, Roger Jackson Centre for Health and Wellness Research, Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4 (e-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.