Well, that's what some call this youth hockey system... the meat market. Others call it child labour. Still others are calling it indentured servitude.
However, most of us only know it by it's given name.... Canadian Junior Hockey.
The shock is that the Canadian junior hockey system continues to be a haven for predators bent on exploiting the boys and girls growing up in this hockey-mad country [...]Many believe it's loooong past time for this system running and in some cases ruining young hockey lives with various abuses, needs to be reformed. I agree. Read the complete article by Andy Prest, writing for the Vancouver Sun.
In Canadian minor hockey, the most talented -- or fastest maturing -- players are separated from their peers at a young age. By 10, the elite players are elevated above those in house league and by 14 and 15, the best players are drafted and sent away to junior teams far from home.
For example, this year Landon Ferraro from Vancouver was drafted by the Red Deer Rebels. His hockey career is now essentially owned by the managers of a team located more than 1,100 km from his home. At the time of the draft he was 14 years old.
Removed from their families, elite youth players are lavished with attention by local, and sometimes, national media, fawned over by adoring fans, and immersed in a male-dominated culture where older men control their lives. Former sportswriter and current Globe and Mail columnist Roy MacGregor calls it "child labour."
"Canada bans rugs from Persia, for example, because those very expensive rugs can only be made by children with their small hands being able to tie those very tiny knots," MacGregor told me in a recent interview.
"Tell me what the difference is between that little kid in old Persia and a 14-year-old kid who has basically been taken away from his parents, is now subject to being traded, can be sent away, and works essentially for no pay or for basically pocket money for a profit-oriented business. That's junior hockey."