Chang­ing the ver­nac­u­lar

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - The News The News Sean Bray

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.

SEAN BRAY PHOTO

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

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