Objective: To reduce the number of transgressions to the rule, the occurrence of violent acts and to prevent injuries, Hockey Québec adopted the Fair-Play Program (FPP). The objective of the present study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the FPP.
Methods: 52 Bantam (14-15 years) teams participated in this cohort study. In total, 49 games (13 with the FPP, 36 without FPP) were systematically assessed for transgressions to the rule. Body checking was allowed in all games. Transgressions to the rule data were obtained using a real time observation system in a natural setting, while injury data were collected through a self-administered questionnaire. Data were analysed using generalised linear models with generalised estimating equations accounting for potential team effect.
Results: The number of penalties per game was significantly lower (p < 0.01) for games played with the FPP. Overall, no difference was noted in the number of transgressions observed during games played with or without the FPP. Players in leagues where the FPP was used held their opponents more frequently (p < 0.0001). On the other hand, players in leagues without the FPP shoved and hit more (p = 0.05). No difference was noted in the injury rate for games played with or without the FPP.
Conclusions: This study showed that the FPP is one of the tools available to help those in the hockey world promote fair play values. Moreover, this project clearly showed the importance of program evaluation and the value of direct observation in a natural setting.