Changing the vernacular
Most of us rarely give thought to the various meanings that some words have, unless we are directly affected. These words, however innocuous their intended use, might cause offence to others. Case in point, the word “midget.”
According to the Oxford Dictionary of American English, the word is defined as a noun meaning “an extremely or unusually small person.” The British edition of the dictionary notes that this use is an offensive description of “a person affected by dwarfism.”
When it comes to sports, this dictionary adds a uniquely Canadian usage: “denoting a level of amateur sport typically involving children aged between sixteen and seventeen: midget hockey.”
The Ontario Basketball Association is planning to phase out the use of the word; in fact, the group is going even further by eliminating all word descriptors for age levels (e.g. junior, juvenile) in favour of using age designations (e.g. U14, U16). Devin Gray, of the OBA, tells
that “this is in fact happening.”
He adds, “In the interim we've unofficially begun removing the age category terms from our website and materials. While the policy for 2019-20 and moving forward hasn't been constructed, we will likely ask clubs at the local level to consider the change, rather than mandate it.”
The movement appears to have begun in Guelph, where parents of a child born with dwarfism approached the local basketball league suggesting the removal of the word.
Katherine Adams, athletics director at Glengarry DHS, says the matter was a point of discussion at an EOSSAA meeting held Dec. 3, though “there really was not consensus on the issue, as it did not seem to be a ‘hot’ topic.” However, she expects that OFSAA, the provincial body, would follow any lead taken by community sports associations.
Athletics Canada and BC Hockey have since joined the discussion. has been unable to reach our local governing body for hockey (HEO) for comment.
TO THE RIM: Holy Trinity senior Kaelin Larin breaks past Tagwi’s Ryan Iwachniuk and Connor MacMillan en route to scoring a basket for the Falcons, in SDGAA league play, hosted by the Warriors. More game images can be viewed online at glengarrynews.ca/photos