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Ringette
Women playing ringette in Canada's
National Ringette League (NRL)
Highest governing bodyInternational Ringette Federation
First played1963; 59 years ago (1963) in Espanola, Ontario, Canada
Characteristics
Contact- no, incidental
- no body checking
- level of allowable contact differs at international level
Team members
Type
Equipment
VenueCanada Standard Canadian ice hockey rink with ringette markings
Presence
OlympicNo[2]
ParalympicNo

Ringette is a girls'[3] non-contact winter team sport[4] played on an ice rink using ice hockey skates, straight sticks with drag-tips and a blue, rubber, pneumatic ring designed for use on ice surfaces. It is one of the most popular team sports for females in Canada. Ringette is the last team sport in history to have been created exclusively for the female sex. Though similar in appearance, ringette is not a variant of ice hockey.

Created in Canada in 1963, ringette is an invasion sport, meaning it involves an offensive team working to maintain possession of an object while attacking (or invading) a defensive team's goal or target area and keeping the opposing team's points to a minimum, all within a defined time period.[5][6] The game objective is to score more goals than the opposing team. Each goal is worth one point. Barring any penalties, teams have a total of six skaters on the ice at one time, one of whom is a goaltender. Body checking is not allowed whatsoever at any age level, boarding qualifies as a penalty, and fighting has a zero-tolerance policy. High-sticking is penalized. A shot clock was introduced into the sport in the 21st century to stop teams who were in the lead from running out the clock.

The game is played on ice hockey rinks but uses different markings. Players must pass over every blue line, and there is no icing or offsides. Instead of faceoffs there are free passes from the circles, and players cannot enter the goalie's crease.[7]

The game was first conceptualized by the Canadian, Sam Jacks, in 1963, after having served as a solider in the Canadian Armed Forces during World War II, where he had also been in charge of sports for South West England. Ringette has since been designated a Heritage Sport by Sport Canada. Although initially created in Canada for young players, ringette is now played competitively by women at the international level, the college and university level, and in semi-professional ringette leagues. Ringette's major model has been set by the female sex rather than male while the majority of women's team sports, such as women's ice hockey and women's bandy, are variants of their sport's more popular men's game model and are therefore categorized by sex, "men's" or "women's" with men comprising the entire elite level of team sports due to their biological advantages.[8][9]

Beginning in the 1980s, ringette's highly unusual success in producing an elite base of female players rather than male paradoxically caused the sport to become a target for radical gender feminists, gender parity feminists, and other ideologically driven polemicists, a phenomenon which continues in the 21st century.

The sport is often incorrectly claimed to have been conceived as non-contact variant of ice hockey created for female participants. It was initially envisioned as a potential indoor court sport for girls to play during winter before the inclusion of ice skates became a reality. Today, ringette is one of the fastest team sports on ice, belonging to a small group of four ice skating team sports, irrespective of their associated variants, which now includes bandy, ice hockey, and rinkball. Ringette's success as a sport has been pioneered by female players and is the only one of the four ice skating team sports where all of its elite athletes are female rather than male. The World Ringette Championship is the premier, elite international competition for the sport. The next World Ringette Championships (WRC) will be held in 2022 in Espoo, Finland from October 31 - November 6.[10][11][12] The annual Canadian Ringette Championships serve as Canada's premiere competition for the sport's elite amateur athletes. Ringette is also a part of the Canada Winter Games program.

The sport's early formation involved incorporating concepts from basketball and an early 20th century variant of floor hockey[13] with ice hockey playing a more peripheral and minor role. Its off-ice variant is known as gym ringette[14] which was primarily designed for youth and should not be confused with floor hockey. While the game has one organized off-ice variant, it has never developed a roller sport companion involving either inline skates or roller skates. Similarly it has never developed an organized skateless winter variant like the ice hockey variant, Spongee.[15] Ringette does not have a parasport variant.

The sport is most popular in Canada and Finland with both countries forming the top international teams, coaches, officials, and female athletes on a regular basis. Internationally, half-a-dozen countries currently participate and organize in the sport with the largest community found in Canada with over 30,000 participants registering annually.[16] Ringette has spread to the United States, Finland, Sweden, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and unofficially to the United Arab Emirates.[17]

Game play

Ringette players use ice hockey skates and a straight stick to pass and shoot a blue, hollow, rubber ring. The stick is a long rectangular shaft made of either wood or a composite material with a tapered end and a drag-tip. The sport uses an ice rink for its playing surface and is played on either an indoor or outdoor ice surface. Ringette officially uses ice hockey rinks with lines and markings specific to ringette added. A ringette rink is similar to but different from those used in ice hockey. At major venues such as the World Ringette Championships, the ice only includes ringette markings. The goalnets used in ringette are identical to those used in ice hockey (6 ft by 4 ft.) but in ringette the goalcrease is larger and players are not allowed to enter the goalie crease. The ringette rink uses five free pass circles, each of which has a bisecting line. In ringette, there are no offsides and no icing. In 2000, a 30-second shot clock was introduced to prevent players from running out the clock, improve the flow of the game, and to increase the speed of play, but was only introduced in the Canadian Junior (U16), Junior Belle and Belle (U19), and Open (18+) divisions in 2002.[18]

The absence of body checking as a strategic component is one of the sport's more recognizable features due to the fact that it is often compared to ice hockey. There is no intentional body contact in ringette though incidental contact does at times occur. Body checking is not allowed whatsoever and boarding qualifies as a penalty. Fighting is not allowed in ringette and has a zero-tolerance policy. The only type of checks allowed are stick checks which are performed by either using the stick in a sweeping motion to knock the ring away from the ring carrier or by lifting or knocking the ring carrier's stick upwards followed immediately by an attempt to steal the ring. Sticks cannot be raised above shoulder height and high-sticking is penalized.

Two teams compete simultaneously with no more than twelve players on the ice at one time: six players on each side consisting of five skaters and one goaltender per team. The game objective is to outscore the opposing team by shooting the ring past the opposing team's goaltender and into the goalnet during stop-time periods of play. A goal is deemed as such if the ring crosses the goal line entirely. Should any part of the ring remain on the goal line, it's not considered a goal. Ringette goalies have the added responsibility of putting the ring back into play in three different game situations: one after stopping a shot on net, one when a defensive player passes the ring to them, and the other during a goalie ring (a free pass made by the goalie from inside the goalcrease). In each of these three situations the goaltender has five seconds to throw, push or pass the ring to another player. The goalie can pass the ring to a teammate beyond the blue line using the stick. Goalies are the only players allowed to play the ring with their hands but are only allowed to do so from within their goalcrease.

In ringette the ring must be passed over each blue line. A player cannot carry the ring over a blue line in either direction. The ring must be passed over the blue line to another teammate. The blue line rule was introduced early in the sport's development in the 1960s by Mirl Arthur "Red" McCarthy when the girls ice hockey team he was working with noticed checking was difficult.[13] Without the ability to use the body to check an opponent as a means of stopping their progress and due to the fact that it was more difficult to separate a ring carrier from a ring than a hockey player from a puck, a new rule needed to be introduced. The blue line rule had the additional effect of forcing players to create more plays and passes and created a better sense of team play.

The start of every game begins with a free pass from the free pass circle at centre ice. During the rest of a game, free pass circles are used for restarting the game after a goal or a violation. No player may enter the circle unless they are the one making the free pass. The player making the pass must not exit the circle before passing the ring and must not cross the bisecting line.

Physical contact

Fighting is not allowed in ringette and has a zero-tolerance policy.

In regards to body contact, there is no intentional body contact in ringette though incidental contact does at times occur. At the international level, the level of allowable body contact does differ in cases involving defensive players.[citation needed]

In regards to body checking, it is not allowed whatsoever at any age level regardless of the competitive level in question and boarding qualifies as a penalty. The absence of body checking as a strategic component is one of the sport's more recognizable features because it is often compared to ice hockey. Body checking has at no point been used as a tactic in the sport because ringette's foundational design was influenced by rules and concepts derived from basketball,[13] and an early 20th-century Canadian variant of floor hockey,[19] which excluded body contact. The floor hockey variant involved had been codified by Sam Jacks in 1936. Body contact in ringette is therefore avoided and penalized although incidental contact is to be expected especially at the international level.

Players

Only six players on each team are permitted on the ice at one time, one centre, two forwards, two defenders, and a goaltender.[20]

Age groups

There are several levels of play in ringette, categorized by age.

In Canada, all divisions were renamed as U* divisions under the newly created Long Term Development Plan (LTDP) rolled out nationally by Ringette Canada for the 2009-10 ringette season.

Age groups in Canada are as follows:

Canadian Age Groups
Age group Former group name
U7 Bunnies
U9 Bunnies/Novice
U10 Novice
U12 Petite
U14 Tween
U16 Junior
U19 Junior Belle or Belle
18+ Open
30+ Masters
Details

U6-8: under 6 or 8 years- this age division has been recently created by only a few associations. It is designed to introduce younger children to the sport and begin to develop skills at an early age. Typically, these young players play modified games (shorter time, no penalties, on half of the ice, etc.)

U8: under 8 (previously called 'Bunny' division)

U9: Under 9 (this is a minor Novice Division)

U10: primarily 8 & 9 years (previously called the 'Novice' division)

U12: 10- & 11-year-old players (previously referred to as 'Petite' division)

U14: 12- & 13-year-old players (previously referred to as 'Tween' division)

U16: 14- & 15-year-old players (previously referred to as 'Junior' division)

U19: 16- to 18-year-old players (previously referred to as 'Jr Belle' or 'Belle' division)

18+: 18 years and older players (previously referred to as 'Open' or adult division, usually included lifelong players under 30)

Masters: 18 years and older, either lifelong players desiring a slower pace, or new players who begin as adults (this division is part of the league associations but excluded from Provincial tournaments)

Periods of play

International rules are used in the World Ringette Championships and consist of 4 quarters which are 15 minutes each.

In the Canadian semi-professional league, the National Ringette League, games consist of 4 quarters which are 15 minutes each with a 10- to 12-minute break between the second and third quarters.

Domestic rules in Canada govern the sport's recreational format. A game is 2 halves with 16 to 24 minutes in each period while many of the competitive "U" teams play 2 periods of either 20 or 30 minutes each.

The shot clock

The shot clock is only applied in competitive levels, starting at the petite level (U12). The team in possession of the ring has 30 seconds to shoot, though this rule does not apply to the younger teams (Bunny/U8, and Novice/U10).

The shot clock is reset when possession of the ring changes teams, when the ring stops in the goaltender's crease, or when the ring bounces off of the goalie or the front of the goal posts.

Ringette rink

Main article: Ice rink § Ringette

Typical layout of an ice hockey rink surface
Typical layout of an ice hockey rink surface

Playing area, size, lines and markings for the standard Canadian ringette rink are similar to the average ice hockey rink.

Ringette in Canada utilizes most of the standard ice hockey markings used by Hockey Canada but with additional markings which includes 4 free-pass dots in each of the end zones, 2 free-pass dots in the centre zone, and a line demarcating a larger goal crease area which is shaped in a semi-circular fashion. Two additional free-play lines (also known as a "ringette line" or "extended zone line") are also required, with 1 in each end zone.

A ringette rink is an ice rink designed for ice hockey which has been modified to enable ringette to be played. Though some ice surfaces are designed strictly for ringette, these ice rinks with exclusive lines and markings for ringette are usually created only at venues hosting major ringette competitions and events. Most ringette rinks are found in Canada and Finland.

Playing area, size, lines and markings for the standard Canadian ringette rink are similar to the average ice hockey rink in Canada with certain modifications.[21][22][23][24]

Early in its history, ringette was played mostly on rinks constructed for hockey and broomball and was mostly played on outdoor rinks since few indoor ice rinks were available at the time.[25]

Rink dimensions

A ringette rink has a width/end zone of 25.9 metres or 85 feet. It's length is 60.96 metres or 200 feet.

Zones

There are three zones in ringette: the end zone, the central zone/neutral zone, and the free play zone/extended zone.

End zones are on opposite sides of the rink and are cordoned off by the blue line and include the space between the end boards and the closest blue line. Each end zone includes: Blue line: (1), Free-play line (aka ringette line): (1), Free-pass circle: (2), Free-pass placement dots: (4), Goal crease: (1), Goal line (aka end zone line): (1)

The central zone is the space between both blue lines. This zone includes: Free-pass circle: (1), Free-pass placement dots: (2), Red centre line: (1), and sometimes an on-ice official's crease.

The free play zone/extended zone consists of the space between the free play zone (a.k.a. extended zone line, ringette line) and the closest blue line. This zone is the space between the blue line and free-play line in an end zone. There are no markings within this area.

Ringette rink lines and markings

Since ringette rinks are essentially ice hockey rinks with additional lines and markings, some lines and markings used in ice hockey are not used in ringette while new ones such as the "Free Play Line" are added.

Centre line

The centre line aka "red line" or "neutral zone line" is a single red line dividing the ends of the ice occupied by each team.

Ringette goal crease

Rink markings include the goal crease. The goal crease is a zone in front of the goal mouth where only goalies are permitted. Only the goaltender can play a ring that is in, or touching, the goal crease. The crease is demarcated by a line shaped in a semi-circular fashion. The goal crease in ringette is larger than the one used in ice hockey.

Goal line

The goal line extends lengthwise across the rink in the end zone near the end boards. Its role is to help determine when goal has been scored. As expected, this is the line that separates a goal from a non-goal when it comes to the ring crossing through to the net. A goal is deemed as such if the ring crosses the goal line inside the net entirely. Should any part of the ring remain on the goal line, it's not considered a goal.

Free-play line (aka ringette line)

The red line at the top of the defensive circles is called the Free Play Line, the Ringette line or is alternatively known as the "Extended Zone Line" in some areas. It marks the restricted area of each team's attacking/defending zones. Only three players from each team, plus the defending goaltender, are permitted into the restricted area beyond this line.

Blue line

There are two blue lines in ringette. These lines help divide the ice into three major sections: centre ice and the two end zones.

Players are not permitted to carry the ring over either of the two blue lines either singularly or in combination, the ring must be passed over each blue line to another player. The ring must be touched by another player first before the passer may take possession again. A ring carrier cannot pass the ring to herself.

There is no offside in ringette.

Free-pass circle

Free pass circles are used for starting the game or restarting the game after a goal or a violation. All free pass circles include a bisecting line with the exception of the one at centre ice which uses the centre line. The ringette rink includes five free-pass circles, one at centre ice, and two in each of the respective end zones. Each circle is divided in half by a line, with the exception of the free-pass circle at centre ice which is divided by the centre line.

Placement dot

Each free-pass circle has two free-pass placement dots. One of each of these two dots is placed on either side of the dividing line.

Equipment

Official ringette ring
Official ringette ring

The sport of ringette uses a specially designed blue rubber pneumatic ring made for play on ice. Required equipment for ringette is similar to ice hockey. Ringette sticks[1] are straight and do not have a blade of any kind, but do have drag tips at their end. Ringette sticks must conform to specific rules including those which determine the acceptable measurements for the taper and face of the stick. The stick and the tip must also meet the minimum width measurements. Equipment and safety standards have undergone a variety of changes as the game has developed.

In Canada the ringette stick brand called "Excel" is banned and is considered illegal for play under Ringette Canada rules.

Safety standards

Several pieces of protective gear must meet certain safety standards that are approved and certified by national agencies such as helmets, facemasks, and neck protectors. In Canada, this usually means the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). Affixed CSA markings are not mandatory in Canada and are not legally required. When they are it is done so as a voluntary certification. The CSA mark is a registered certification mark, and can only be applied by someone who is licensed or otherwise authorised to do so by the CSA.

Neck protectors used by ringette players in Canada must be BNQ certified and approved. BNQ stands for Bureau de normalisation du Québec. Based in Quebec, BNQ is an organization that created the standard for cut-resistant neck guards. The test requires the neck guard have a certain amount of coverage that is determined by standards that BNQ developed. The test is a blade on a swinging test apparatus that is run across the neck guard to test for cut penetration.

Required equipment

Ringette equipment
Ringette ring Ringette sticks[1]
Team jersey Ice hockey goalnets (2)
Player equipment
Upper body Lower body
Helmet (in Canada, helmets must be CSA approved) Ice hockey skates
Ringette face mask (in Canada, ringette Face masks must be CSA approved):
- wire cage
- full visor
- wire cage/visor combo
** half visors are disallowed
** all face shields must be made of an unbreakable transparent material
Ringette pants
- these are waist-to-ankle pants
- these pants replace ice hockey pants and socks
Mouthguard
(some areas)
Standard ice hockey pants are permitted provided that the player wears a genital protector
Neck protector
- in Canada, neck protectors must be BNQ certified and approved. BNQ stands for Bureau de normalisation du Québec.
Knee and shinguards
Gloves
(designed for ringette or ice hockey)
Protective girdle
- girdle design includes protection for hips, tailbone, and a built in genital protector (aka a "jill")
Elbow protectors Genital protection for girls and women, a.k.a. a "Jill"
Shoulder pads with chest protection
Goalie equipment
Goalstick (same as in ice hockey) Ice skates (or goalie skates)
Goalpads (same as in ice hockey) Goalie helmet and goaltender facemask which must be designed specifically for ringette
Neck protector
- in Canada, neck protectors must be BNQ certified and approved. BNQ stands for Bureau de normalisation du Québec.
Goalie helmet
Goalie gloves (both sides)
* broomball glove
* ice hockey trapper
* "Nami glove", or "Keely glove"
* ice hockey blocker

Ice skates

Ice hockey skates are required. The ice skate model in official use today is the same as the design used in the team sport of ice hockey as opposed to the ice skate model used in figure skating, speed skating or the team sport of bandy. Ringette goalies may use the goalie skates designed for ice hockey goalies.

Ringette sticks

Ringette sticks are straight and do not have a blade of any kind, but do have drag-tips at their end. Ringette sticks must conform to specific rules including those which determine the acceptable measurements for the taper and face of the stick. The stick and the tip must also meet the minimum width measurements. With the exception of goaltenders who use a stick designed for their specific position, all players use a straight stick ending in a rectangular-shaped drag-tip that includes ridges around its circumference. The drag-tip is usually made of steel, aluminum or plastic. In Canada the ringette stick brand called "Excel" is banned and is considered illegal for play under Ringette Canada rules.

Ringette sticks are generally lightweight composites or hollow wood, with ridged or grooved drag-tips. Heavily splintered sticks and modified hockey sticks are not permitted. These sticks have tapered ends, with plastic drag-tips specially designed with grooves to increase the lift and velocity of the wrist shot. A ringette stick is also reinforced to withstand the body weight of a player; a ring carrier leans heavily on his/her stick to prevent opposing players from removing the ring. Sticks are flexible and lightweight to bend without breaking.

Face-masks

Ringette requires all players including goalies to wear an approved helmet with an approved ringette face-mask. Ringette facemasks are similar to those used in ice hockey but its bars are spaced so that the end of a ringette stick cannot enter the mask. Bars are often noticeably shaped in a triangular fashion, not squares.

Face-masks must be designed specifically for the sport of ringette, either a wire cage design or a wire-cage combo which includes a half visor made of a clear plastic shielding the eyes. All face shields must be made of an unbreakable transparent material and are made of a type of plastic. Some clear plastic models are designed entirely for the face and include holes near the bottom for breathing. Masks must be affixed to an approved helmet model; mask designs with square bars commonly found in ice hockey are disallowed because the stick tip can fit through the spaces; designs with tightly horizontally spaced bars near the bottom half of a wire and visor combo may be approved.

Mouthguards

A mouthguard in required in some leagues and provinces in Canada, Finland, Sweden and the United States.

Neck guard

An approved neck guard is required for both players and goalies. Neck protectors used by ringette players in Canada must be BNQ certified and approved. BNQ stands for Bureau de normalisation du Québec. Based in Quebec, BNQ is an organization that created the standard for cut-resistant neck guards. The test requires the neck guard have a certain amount of coverage that is determined by standards that BNQ developed. The test is a blade on a swinging test apparatus that is run across the neck guard to test for cut penetration.

Shoulder pads

Shoulder pads with chest protection are required in some Canadian ringette associations and provinces. Shoulder pads are optional after U12. In Ontario, Canada, shoulder pads are necessary until 18+, while other Canadian provinces may vary.

Elbow pads

Elbow pads are required.

Gloves

Ringette or ice hockey gloves are required for players (see Goaltenders for goalie glove information). Sometimes broomball gloves are also used by very young ringette goaltenders but are illegal to use at higher age levels.

Protective girdle

A protective girdle with built-in genital protection, a.k.a. a "jill", is required. "Jill" is the colloquial term for the genital protection designed specifically for female athletes. Alternatively, ringette players using ice hockey pants must also have genital protection, either a "cup" or a "jill".

Pants

Ringette pants are sports pants that extend all the way to the ankles to cover equipment. Their appearance is similar to the sports pants worn in broomball and in-line hockey. These pants are usually pants with an adjustable waist belt. The pants are constructed with materials that make them lightweight, breathable, water repellent, durable, and tear resistant.

Standard ice hockey pants which extend to above the knee are also permitted so long as the player wears a "cup" or a "jill" to protect the player's genitals.

Shin and knee guards

Shin and knee guards are required to be worn under the player's ringette pants.

Goaltenders

Required equipment for ringette goaltenders is similar to ice hockey with a few differences.

Goalie stick

The goalie stick is identical to those used in ice hockey.

Goalie gloves

Goalie gloves for both hands are required. Apart from using an ice hockey goalie blocker on their stick side, ringette goalies have a choice in the use of one of four options for their catching/throwing side: the broomball glove (sometimes called a "ringette" glove), another ice hockey goalie blocker, an ice hockey trapper, or the sport's only design specifically for ringette goalies colloquially known as a "Nami glove", or "Keely glove". Broomball gloves are usually only used by very young ringette goaltenders but are illegal to use at higher age levels.

A "Nami glove", or "Keely glove" can be used. "Nami" is the name of the company responsible for developing the first goalie glove design for the sport of ringette, while "Keely" is the nickname the glove acquired after it became public that former Team Canada ringette goaltender, Keely Brown, was involved in the design project.

Goalie skates

Ice skates are also required for ringette goalies. Ringette goalies may use the goalie skates designed for ice hockey goalies.

Basic rules

In ringette all play begins with either a free pass or a goalie pass.

Centre Ice Free Pass

The game begins with a "free pass" at centre ice by the visiting team. This is formally called a "Centre Ice Free Pass", a "Centre Free Ring". Play does not begin with a face-off.

To begin a free pass at centre ice, a player from the visiting team stands in the free-pass circle at centre ice. This circle is divided into two halves by the centre red line. The player stands inside the half which is closest to their defensive zone. No other player on the ice is allowed to enter any part of the circle. Once the whistle is blown to start the play, the passing player has five seconds to make the ring exit the entire circle with the intention of making a pass, though the opposing team is allowed to intercept the ring. During the pass attempt the passing player may not exit their half of the circle or cross the centre red line or the play is stopped, and the opposing team gains possession and is given a pass-off of their own.

A free pass at centre ice is also taken after half time to start the second period (or at the beginning of a new quarter in either a semi-pro or international game) as well as when the play is interrupted.

Zone restrictions

Player restrictions

All players have areas they may and may not enter barring the "first three in" rule and in the event that the goalie has been "pulled".

  1. The centre player may access all areas of the ice except either their own goalie's crease or the opposing goalie's crease. They may not enter a free pass circle during a free pass unless they are the player taking the free pass.
  2. Forwards (wingers) may only access the areas of the ice up to the free-play line a.k.a. extended zone line which is marked off in their own teams defensive end zone. Forwards may cross the zone line only in the event of a play involving the first three in rule, but there must be no more than three players in the defensive end zone at a time except in the case where the goalie has been "pulled". If their goalie has been pulled, four players are allowed in the end zone. They may not enter a free pass circle during a free pass unless they are the player taking the free pass.
  3. Defensive players may only access the areas of the ice up to the free-play line a.k.a. extended zone line which is marked off in their opponents defensive end zone. Defensive players may cross the zone line only in the event of a play involving the first three in rule, but there must be no more than three players in their offensive end zone at a time except in the case where the goalie has been "pulled" in which case four players are allowed. They may not enter a free pass circle during a free pass unless they are the player taking the free pass.
  4. Officials circle - some rinks and games involve the use of an officials circle which has its own rules for player access once play has stopped.


Blue lines

Players are not permitted to carry the ring over any blue line. They can only advance the ring over a blue line by passing it to another player. After the ring crosses the blue line, the ring must be touched by a different player from either team first or it is considered a violation and play is stopped.

One exception to this rule is when the ring the player has passed over the blue line bounces off another player's skate, in which case the passing player can legally regain control of the ring and take possession again.

If the ring crosses over both blue lines, the team that passed it may not touch it until the opposing team touches the ring first. If the ring is picked up by a player after whose teammate has passed it over both blue lines, the play is stopped, their team loses possession, and the opposing team is given a free pass.

If a goaltender throws the ring across the blue line, a delayed violation is signalled. The goaltender may use their stick to pass the ring over the blue line.

Exceptions include:

If the violation is non-intentional, the team in violation will lose possession of the ring and have it granted to the non-offending team. If the violation is deemed intentional, a delay of game penalty is assessed (rare). If an intentional violation occurs in the last two minutes of the game, a penalty shot is awarded instead. The Extended Zone Line is also known as the "ringette line".

Goal crease

The goal crease is the area in front of the net defined by a red semi circle on the ice. Goaltenders are the only players permitted in the crease. If a member of the team with ring possession violates the crease with a stick, skate, etc., the play is stopped and the goalie receives the ring. If any member of the non-possession team violates the crease, their team cannot touch the ring for five seconds (counted by the referee), or possession of the ring is given to the other team.

When the ring enters the crease, the goaltender then has five seconds to throw, pass with stick, deflect, or push the ring out to another player. If the goalie does not pass it within five seconds, the ring is awarded to the other team for a free pass from one of the defensive free play circles. The goalie may use the stick to touch the ring outside the crease, and can also pass through the crease, but may not pull it into the crease unless they pull it all the way through and out with one motion. Otherwise, this results in a loss of possession, and a penalty if they have already been given a warning. The goalie may not pick up or cover the ring with their glove outside the crease. The goalie can push the ring with a hand when outside the crease, as can any other player.

The team in possession of the ring has 30 seconds to shoot, though this rule does not apply to the younger teams (Bunny/U8, and Novice/U10). The shot clock is reset when possession of the ring changes teams, when the ring stops in the goaltender's crease, or when the ring bounces off of the goalie or the front of the goal posts. The shot clock is only applied in competitive levels, starting at the petite level (U12).

Pulling the goalie

A team may pull the goalie off the ice and one more player may go in the offensive or defensive end. If the goalie is pulled and the play returns to that team's defensive end, one skater may become an acting goaltender. Once they enter the crease, they are bound by the same rules as a regular goaltender. If a team pulls the goalie without adding an additional player to the ice, the goalie may return to the defensive end.

Violations

A violation is a minor penalty called for violations of game play rules, usually due to improper movement or handling of the ring. Common violations include entering the crease, touching the ring on either side of the blue line, four players in the zone and 2 (blue) line passes.

If a violation is committed by the team in possession of the ring, play is stopped immediately. The ring is awarded to the opposing team in the zone the violation occurred. If a violation is committed by the team not in possession of the ring, a 'delayed violation' is signalled by the official (arm raised with a 90-degree bend at the elbow) and a 5-second count begins. If the team in violation touches the ring within that time period, play is stopped and the violation is assessed. If the count expires, the violation is dropped and play continues.

If a violation occurs that would award the defending team a free pass in their own zone, the ring is given to the goaltender as a "goalie ring". Play resumes immediately when the goaltender receives the ring. Time is not provided for teams to perform line changes as can be done on a free pass, although on-the-fly changes are permitted as in normal play.

Penalties

Penalties in ringette have the same concept as in hockey, with the notable exception that less body contact is allowed and fighting has a zero-tolerance policy.

Penalties are of the following classes:

Minor penalties

Minor penalties, such as boarding, charging, cross checking, elbowing, holding, illegal substitution, hooking, high-sticking, tripping, body contact, slashing, unsportsmanlike conduct and interference. The offending player must sit in the penalty box for two or four minutes depending on the severity of the penalty (other exceptions apply) and her team plays short-handed. The penalty ends when the team with the penalty is scored on, or the penalty time runs out. (If the defence is serving two penalties, the oldest penalty ends.)

Major penalties

A major penalty is assessed for serious offences, generally involving intent to injure or an intentional penalty action to prevent a shot during the attacking team's breakaway. Major penalties are four minutes in length and do not end upon the scoring of a goal.

Body contact, slashing, tripping, boarding, charging and any other physical contact penalty, and unsportsmanlike can become a four-minute major penalty depending on the severity and roughness. Players may also receive multiple penalties at the same time for a combination of four or more minutes.

Misconduct and Match penalties

Misconduct and Match penalties may also be called. They result in a player's ejection from the game. Misconduct and Major penalties also incur a two- or four-minute fully served penalty to be served by a teammate, unless the penalty is assessed to a non-playing bench member.

Goalie penalties

When a penalty is assessed against the goalie, a teammate on the ice at the time of the offence must serve it.

Delayed penalty

If the team not in control of the ring commits a penalty, play is not stopped until the penalized team gains control. This is called a delayed penalty. A minor penalty is nullified if a goal is scored during the delay, unless penalties of equal class were called on both teams. While the penalty is delayed, the attacking team can add a sixth skater to the ice by pulling their goalie. This player can enter the play zone as the fourth attacker.

Team with multiple penalties

A team can work off at most two penalties at a time.

If a team commits a third penalty, the penalized player sits in the penalty box, but her interval does not start until the first of the other penalties expires (and so forth if there are more penalties).

A team plays with a minimum of three skaters on the ice, regardless of the number of penalties.

If freeing a player from the penalty box would give the team more players on the ice than it is entitled to (such as when the team is down to three attackers, but there are two other players in the penalty box), she will not be freed until a whistle stops play. During the stoppage, the team must remove one player from the ice to return to its proper strength.

A team with two penalties can have only two players (instead of the usual three) in its defensive zone. But if a third person is active in the defensive zone while two man down a third penalty will be called. If there is a third penalty that penalty time does not start till the first penalty is over. All three players may enter the offensive zone.

Basic skills

Ringette has developed a wide range of skills and techniques over the course of its development. This includes but is not limited to skating skills, shooting, passing, pass receiving (often called "spearing"), checking, dekeing, and drive skating among others. Like in ice hockey, skating is considered the most fundamental of all the skills that must be mastered.

Types of shots

In ringette, a player's handedness is determined by which side of their body they hold their stick. Though some players are effective using both sides, this isn't very common.

In ice hockey there are six basic types of shots: the sweep shot, flip shot (or shovel), the wrist shot, the snapshot, the slap shot, and the backhand.

In ringette, players have a limited set of four basic shots: the sweep shot, the flip shot, the wrist shot, and backhand shot. Some shots are performed on both the forehand and backhand.

Although some shots in ringette have names similar to those used in ice hockey, their execution is different.[26]

Off-ice variants

Gym Ringette

The off-ice gym variant of the ice sport of ringette is called gym ringette[14][27][28][29] and was developed in the 1990s, largely by Ringette Canada[30] the national governing body for the sport of ringette in the country. The game is designed to be played in gymnasiums and currently is primarily administered for play among youth though adult leagues are known to have been created. The playing area usually involves a gymnasium or indoor court though "gym ringette" has occasionally been played on dry dek hockey rinks.

A number of its own variants exist, some formally or otherwise. Some are played with floor hockey rules, the orange gym ringette rings, and gym ringette sticks and have been accidentally mislabeled "Ringette"[31] when the codes being used are in fact those from a variant of floor hockey.

Gym ringette should not to be confused with floor hockey though at one time the floor hockey variant whose rules were codified in 1936 by Sam Jacks during the Great Depression did eventually play a role in the early development of the winter sport of ringette in the 1960s. The floor hockey model created by Sam Jacks used a flat, open disk made of felt with a hole in the centre, not a ring. Gym ringette is a direct variant of the ice skating sport of ringette.

Gym stick

The sticks used in gym ringette are often lightweight and made of a type of plastic and have tips designed to minimize possible damage to the flooring which is used. It is also safer for children and therefore requires less safety equipment and is relatively inexpensive.

Gym ring

Gym ringette uses a different type of ring than the ice sport. The gym ring is bright orange in color unlike the ice ring which is blue and is made of a different material than the ice ring, allowing it to slide easily along floors without causing damage; conversely the ice ring is made of a type of rubber which has a substantial amount of grip which creates a fair amount of friction and therefore does not slide along surfaces like floors, cement or asphalt and will instead come to an almost immediate stop.

Street variant

A growing trend in more recent years has seen older players engaged in a street variant of gym ringette which involves using normal ringette sticks (made for the ice) which are heavier, but with its players wearing protective eyewear, ringette gloves, ice hockey gloves, or street hockey gloves, and occasionally shinguards designed for either floorball or street hockey. These games are most often seen played on surfaces designed for dek hockey though informal games do occur on the average residential street. In these games the ring used is not limited to the gym ringette ring; at times an ice ring can be seen used by players. The ice-ring however creates specific challenges because of the amount of grip produced by the type of rubber used to create it due to the fact that it was designed specifically for use on the ice and meant to be durable when used in cold winter environments.

To date no formalized rules or governing body exists for this variant and this game appears to be an activity that is only pursued in limited areas of Canada thus-far, most notably Quebec.

Wheeled variants

To date, there has never been an off-ice variant of ringette using either inline skates or roller skates (a.k.a. "quads") that has been developed with a set of formalized rules or large governing body.

Common misconceptions

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Origin story myths

The Espanola High School girls ice hockey team in 1963-64 who played the first ringette game
The Espanola High School girls ice hockey team in 1963-64 who played the first ringette game
Bandy being played by women on the Peblinge Søen in Denmark in 1917
Bandy being played by women on the Peblinge Søen in Denmark in 1917
Women playing ice hockey at Rideau Hall c. 1890 (earliest known image of women's hockey)
Women playing ice hockey at Rideau Hall c. 1890 (earliest known image of women's hockey)
Charles Goodman Tebbutt and members of the Bury Fen Bandy Club[32][33] published the first set of rules for bandy in 1882
Charles Goodman Tebbutt and members of the Bury Fen Bandy Club[32][33] published the first set of rules for bandy in 1882

Girls not allowed to play ice hockey

A popular myth surrounding the origin story of ringette in several countries, including Canada, proposes the idea that due to sexism, girls were not permitted to play ice hockey and that ringette was created as an alternative.[34][35][36][37] However, evidence for this claim does not exist.[3] In the early 1960s a group of girls from Espanola High School who had played ice hockey during physical education classes became the first to play an organized game of ringette under the direction of Mirl Arthur "Red" MCarthy. In addition, women had been playing early forms of bandy in Europe for over a century and girls and women had been playing ice hockey in Canada since the late 1800s. However, both bandy and ice hockey were most popular among male players and remain so in the 21st century. What did not exist until the creation of ringette was an ice skating team sport that was popular among girls instead of boys and a winter season team sport girls could call their own. Today, ringette is one of the few team sports worldwide where all of its elite athletes are female rather than male, and is the only ice skating team sport to have achieved this goal in history.

Lack of interest and misinterpretation

The early set of rules for ringette show that the lack of participation in female ice hockey was due to a lack of interest among the female population despite the available opportunities.[3] By the 1960s, girls and women had been playing ice hockey in Canada since the late 1800s and the earliest rules for ringette, written by Mirl Arthur "Red" McCarthy for the Northern Ontario Recreational Directors Association (NORDA) in 1963, involved the help of various high school girls ice hockey teams in Espanola, Ontario.[13]

The earliest rules created in 1963 evolved into ones created by the Society of Directors of Municipal Recreation of Ontario (SDMRO) in 1965. These rules make mention of local girls broomball and girls ice hockey programs in the areas and regions covered by the SDMRO, the organization responsible for developing ringette after its initial development by NORDA in 1963. Female interest in playing ice hockey for sport had failed in North America including the areas where ringette developed as indicated by a lack of growth, yet this recorded phenomenon is often falsely framed by western gender feminist ideologues in sport as a phenomenon to be blamed on men.

Only a few thousand females in Canada played ice hockey prior to the 1990s.[38] However, in 1983 (twenty years after ringette was created) there were over 14,500 ringette players in Canada. That same year the number of players registered in the female category of ice hockey in Canada, was a mere 5,379 which was less than 40% of ringette's numbers.[38] Female ice hockey only began to experience significant growth after body checking was officially removed in the 1990s.

Women's ice hockey was disorganized until the 1990s

By the mid-1980s, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) came under pressure to formally codify a consistent set of rules and structures for the women's ice hockey game, a variant of men's ice hockey, but failed to do so, leading to calls for the formation of a separate women's international ice hockey federation. However, International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch informed the IIHF that the IOC would not communicate with separate federations. Women's ice hockey would not establish an official female category of the sport with a codified international model until the 1990s, almost a century after ice hockey's rules were first codified by men in Montreal.

Girls had to compete against boys

By the early 1980s in Canada, female ice hockey registrations were only marginally above 5,000. In the 1960s, there were even less. As a direct consequence of a smaller number of female participants in ice hockey,[39] girls in the 1960s who chose to play ice hockey did not have a well established national system for girls ice hockey and therefore if they chose to play ice hockey during puberty, adolescence, and beyond, they often had to compete against their physically bigger, stronger, and better male peers who were so due to biologically based male advantages.[8] The girls did not want to compete against the boys. The same held true right up until the mid-1990s till the turn of the 20th century:

Until the CWHL (founded in 2007) [which has since collapsed] and NWHL (2015) existed, mixed-gender play was the norm. Without professional women’s hockey to shoot for, [or an organized national system with a high registration rate] girls had no choice but to play on boys teams. As they got older, they had the option to play in college, then a narrow crack at making an Olympic squad...“I stopped playing with the boys and went over to girls, but I still practiced with boys because the pace of the game was faster,” said Coyne. “But girls can grow up with girls hockey now, and we didn’t have that growing up.”

— Marisa Ingemi[40], "Bigger, Stronger, Faster: Women’s hockey outgrowing its dependence on the men’s game", Boston Herald (February 7, 2019)

Today tens of thousands of girl play ice hockey in Canada, meaning Canadian parents no longer have to put their daughters on boys hockey teams and girls can join girls teams. Only once a well populated female centred ice hockey system and category was in place was a national female system for ice hockey able to develop in Canada. Girls today are far less likely to be forced to compete against boys in ice hockey the way they once had to during the 1960s because a shortage of female competitors is not the obstacle it once was.

Body checking was still allowed

In the 1960s, body checking was still used in both the male and female categories of ice hockey in Canada.[39] Body checking was not officially removed from the female game of ice hockey in Canada until 1986 after which its registrations saw an increase.[41]

Lack of viable equipment for women

The availability and use of protective gear for ice hockey in the 1960s was minimal and tended to exclude helmets and face-guards. There was an absence of viable ice hockey equipment for mature female players which was often designed for male players and the male body.

Lack of incentives, not sexism

All of the above factors consequently acted as a disincentive for potential female hockey players. Unlike Canadian parents in the 1960s who had daughters who played ice hockey, Canadian parents in the early part of the 21st century have a wide array of viable equipment choices for them and put them in the Canadian girls ice hockey system, not the Canadian male ice hockey system, which would not be done if a separate system exclusively for girls had not been built, and if observable biological differences between the sexes didn't exist. Girls in Canada prior to the 1990s were discouraged from playing ice hockey due to the understandable consequences, not sexism.

Missing international perspective

The claim that parental exclusion of girls in hockey was based on sexist ideas also ignores the historical reality of sports participation by girls and women internationally. Ice hockey by the 1960s was not the only ice skating team sport played by girls and women. Women and girls had also been playing the non-contact sport of bandy[42] since the 1800s, even before ice hockey had become an established sport in North America. In fact, an international match between women's bandy teams from Sweden and Finland took place in Helsinki, Finland in 1935 at the Helsingfors Ice Stadium, where a portion of the match was captured by British Pathé.[43] This international women's bandy competition took place in Finland, 28 years before the first set of rules for ringette were laid down in Canada and 55 years before the first official world competition for women's ice hockey was held in 1990. However, while bandy in its loosely defined format had been played in various forms after being introduced to North America by the 1800s, it was only played in areas where a winter season existed, an important factor considering that much like ice hockey, bandy was played exclusively outdoors before indoor skating rinks were invented. Bandy unlike ice hockey did not formally organize in North America but did so in Britain where its first rules were codified in 1882 by English speed skater, Charles Goodman Tebbutt and members of the Bury Fen Bandy Club. While ice hockey developed and spread in North America, bandy was growing in Europe and in Scandinavia. Today men's and women's bandy are a part of Europe's Winter Universiade events program (called the "Winter World University Games" in English) after its debut at the 2019 Winter Universiade in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.

Lack of rough play spun as a sign of patriarchal oppression

It is common to mistake ice hockey as the main predecessor of ringette rather the early 20th century Canadian game-style of floor hockey, a game created for youths and whose rules were first codified in 1936 by Canada's Sam Jacks. The floor hockey variant was not a contact sport. In Canada during the early 1960s Jacks also became responsible for the first conceptualization of the sport of ringette before it was decided to make it an ice skating team sport for girls rather than a court sport, making the sport faster. Ringette was geared towards play which its inventor, Sam Jacks considered "feminine and not rough",[13] in order to attract more female participants.

The established format of ringette, unlike female ice hockey, excluded body contact and body checking, with body checking being a tactic that would not be officially removed from the female category of ice hockey in Canada until the mid-1980s and remained in place at the international level of female ice hockey until the mid-1990s. It wasn't until after body checking was removed from female ice hockey that it began to see substantial and sustainable growth. Another important factor in the development of ringette was the fact that while the game was initially thought of as a potential court sport, the decision to add ice skates meant sharp metal blades would be involved with players moving faster than they ever could if they were merely playing on foot raising the possibility of more serious injuries, especially considering the fact that protective equipment for team sports which were played on ice were not well developed at the time.

Body checking was still a part of female ice hockey in Canada in the 1960s but excluded from the foundational design of ringette. The start of second wave feminism, particularly in the United States, helped give rise to the belief that girls who did not participate in rough play or contact sport were underdeveloped, deprived and oppressed by "patriarchy". The creation of the sport of ringette in 1963 also predated America's Title IX, which was created in 1972,[44] by almost a decade.

For most of the 20th century, protective equipment in sports, particularly ice hockey and broomball (bandy was no longer played in North America), was not well developed and in many cases non-existent, such as in the case of protection for the face, head and neck. Sam Jacks's early 20th century version of floor hockey which helped inspire the sport in its initial phase used absolutely no equipment whatsoever apart from sticks. Because ringette was first informally envisioned as a court sport, it is this game as well as basketball which had the largest influence on the early development of ringette, rather than ice hockey.

Lack of opportunities for girls to play winter sports

When ringette was created in the early 1960s, the administration of community and civic recreation and sport programs, particularly in regards to youth, was a new emerging field.[45]

By the 1960s girls and women could play a female variant of a winter sport that was more popular with males such as ice hockey in North America or bandy in Europe, but what didn't exist were opportunities for them to play a winter team sport that which was recognized as being distinctly their own rather than a modified variant of a more popular men's game. While broomball (the only other winter team sport in North America at the time) was initially more popular among female players, it was played by both males and females and usually did not involve ice skates.

A common myth persists in regards to the claim that there was a lack of existing opportunities for females to play winter team sports whatsoever when the sport of ringette was created during the 1960s.[46] However, the problem wasn't a lack of opportunities for girls, since girls broomball and girls ice hockey programs already existed.[3] The reality was, organized winter team sports were in scarce supply in particular, and few organized game models existed. Among the few that did exist, they were vastly more popular among the male population, and team sports created for girls rather than boys were rarer still. One option was to follow the popular approach and modify one of the few existing game models set by the more dominant male demographic and alter it to suit the needs and interests of female players in order to attract more involvement. However, this had already been done in North America in the case of ice hockey and broomball, but neither approach had proven particularly successful. Another option existed and that was to create a new sport just for girls themselves.

Few options, not few opportunities

Regardless of sex, only broomball and ice hockey were the available options to play during the winter season in North America if players wanted to play a winter team sport involving facing off against an opposing team at the same time, rather playing sports which involved taking turns such as in the sports of curling and icestock.[3] Girls and women's recreational broomball[47] and girls and women's community ice hockey programs existed in a variety of areas in Canada and the United States, including in the city and areas where ringette first began. By the time ringette was invented in 1963, opportunities for female participation in winter team sports had been in existence for over a half-century with the earliest record of women's ice hockey dating back to 1889 in Ottawa, Canada.[48] In addition, women's ice hockey had long been introduced at the post-secondary education level, starting with McGill University's women's ice hockey team debuting in 1894. A number of universities in Canada had women's university hockey teams, but this was largely restricted to girls and women from wealthy families. Ringette began as a sport accessible to all class levels and also attracted girls from Canadian families who could not afford figure skating.

Lack of development

Despite the available opportunities, both female broomball and female ice hockey varied in participation rates regionally and nationally, partly due to differences in climate as both sports require winter conditions in order to be played. This had an impact on both the male and female population. Another important factor was that the sports of ice hockey and broomball had not been widely introduced across the continent, requiring a variety knowledgeable, experienced and skilled community leaders and builders volunteering their time to both initiate and run sports clubs and organizations at the grassroots level as well as generate interest and recruit participants.

Only two team winter sports in North America
Broomball players playing on ice skates on the Terrasse Dufferin in Quebec circa 1923
Broomball players playing on ice skates on the Terrasse Dufferin in Quebec circa 1923

At the time, regardless of sex, broomball and ice hockey were the only two winter team sports available to play anywhere in North America which involved facing off against an opponent, a reality of winter team sports participation often completely ignored by contemporary historical accounts and historical revisionists.[46] However, except in some rare cases in regards to broomball, only ice hockey involved the use of ice skates.[49][50]

Bandy strictly European

The only other team sport which involved the use of ice skates anywhere in the world at the time was the sport of bandy which had failed to materialize and organize in North America, largely due to it morphing into the new sport of ice hockey along with elements from other existing sports. Bandy as a game was introduced to British North America by British soldiers but disappeared from North America entirely by the beginning of the 20th century while it continued to grow and flourish in Russia and a variety of Scandinavian countries.

Only four winter models worldwide

Today winter team skating sports of this form involving ice skating are still exceptionally rare with only a total of four presently in existence worldwide, excluding their variants: bandy, ice hockey, rinkball and ringette itself, but out of those four, only ringette was initially created for girls and women rather than initially for men.

Accusations of a sexist origin

Another popular yet unsubstantiated claim involves the belief that Canadian parents entered their daughters in ringette rather than female ice hockey due to sexism and male chauvinism prior to the inclusion of women's ice hockey in the winter Olympic program in 1998. However, unlike ringette, body checking was allowed in female ice hockey[39] and would remain so for many decades. Body checking in women's hockey in Canada was removed in 1986[51] over twenty years after it had already been eliminated from the foundational design of ringette. Bandy, another team ice skating sport had excluded body checking in both its male and female categories of the sport for even longer, but bandy did not exist in North America.

At the international level of female ice hockey in the women's age group, right up until the first women's world ice hockey championships in 1990, the women's national ice hockey teams from Canada, Team USA and teams from European countries used body checking as a tactic against countries with less experience.[52] This resulted in a number of injured players and made the women's game less attractive to other competing nations. As a consequence, body checking was removed from the women's ice hockey game, the change being adopted internationally. Female ice hockey has not reintroduced body checking. In addition, once the female version of ice hockey eliminated body checking in Canada in 1986, registrations actually saw an increase.[41]

Conversely, the sport of ringette had never included body checking, helping the sport attract female players, almost thirty years before body checking was eliminated from girls' and women's ice hockey.

Ringette as a variant of ice hockey

Despite popular belief, though ice hockey had some influence in the early development of ringette, the sport was neither created to be, nor qualifies as an ice hockey variant as is popularly reported by media.[53] This is due to the fact that the sport was largely shaped by floor sports concepts. A Canadian version of floor hockey codified by Sam Jacks in 1936 served as the initial sport affecting ringette as an early concept before its first experimental design by Jacks made it to the ice where ice skates were introduced and basketball concepts were used by Red McCarthy to help further design and shape the new sport. By comparison, female ice hockey does qualify for such a classification due to the fact that it is a variant of the more popular men's game and was derived from the major model for ice hockey which has been set and designed by a largely male demographic.

Women's variant vs origin

In regards to ice hockey, the female ice hockey variant was a necessary development in order to create a female category of ice hockey. Ringette by comparison was, in its very early conceptual stage, influenced by a variety of pre-existing floor and court games, especially basketball and Sam Jacks's version of floor hockey whose rules he codified in 1936.[13] Once the initial rules for the potential sport were envisioned by and drafted by Sam Jacks, they were further modified, developed, and shaped through experimentation by Mirl Arthur "Red" McCarthy on ice rinks in Espanola using high school girls who had played ice hockey in gym classes, due to a need for skaters as it had by then been decided that the sport would include ice skates.

Ice skating team sports

While ringette shares certain characteristics with ice hockey, overall there are three ice skating team sports worldwide which do, including bandy, rinkball and ringette, putting all four sports in a distinct group of established winter team sports.

Bandy, initially known simply as, "hockey on the ice" and arguably the most important predecessor to ice hockey, eventually emerged in its organized format in the 1800s and was modelled off of various ball and field games. It was the first winter team ice skating sport in the world which involved two teams facing off on opposite sides of the playing area used. Beginning as an informal recreational and leisure activity during the 1800s in Britain, bandy was introduced in its informal style by British soldiers to British North America and spread to Europe and Scandinavia before ice hockey was established as an organized sport in what is now Canada in the late 1800s. Bandy itself disappeared from North America in the late 1800s after it failed to become an organized sport and instead became absorbed into the new sport of ice hockey. Bandy would not return to North America in an organized format until the 1970s in the American city of Minnesota. In Canada, bandy would not be reintroduced until the 1980s in Winnipeg. Today bandy is one of the most popular team sports played in Sweden, where it is only second to soccer in terms of rate of participation, and more popular than ice hockey.

Ringette and rinkball both emerged in the 1960s albeit on different continents with ringette developing in Canada and rinkball in Sweden and Finland in the 1960s – 1970s. However, both sports developed entirely separately and developed without any influence from the other. Ringette was not introduced to Scandinavia until the late 1970s; rinkball to this day has never become established or organized in any manner in North America. Rinkball was influenced primarily by the existence of rink bandy and ice hockey in Sweden and Finland.

Today, bandy, ice hockey, ringette and rinkball (and their winter based variants) all involve four major but fundamental characteristics not shared by any other organized sports which put them in a unique group of sport:

  1. they are all winter team sports using ice as their playing surface
  2. they require the use of ice skates (or ice sledge in the case of para sport variants such as para ice hockey)
  3. they require the use of a designated goalkeeper (1 per side)
  4. both teams compete at the same time on opposite sides of the area of play

The organized version of broomball, a skateless winter team sport, can also be placed in this category of sport to a certain degree. However, because it does not use ice skates of any kind, and more commonly uses a special type of shoe designed to allow players to acquire traction on the ice today, it doesn't fit accurately. In addition, broomball is also the only one of these winter team sports that can also be and is played on snow rather than ice due to the fact that it does not use ice skates of any kind. Today when broomball is played on snow it is more commonly done so in an informal manner and often takes place as a part of a winter festival.

While the basic characteristics shared between these sports results in similar designs in terms of protective equipment, in all cases their distinctive differences become more apparent at a closer glance. Important differences involve: whether the format played is in the male or female category of the sport (only the female format exists in ringette), the dimensions, markings and areas of restriction which design and organize the playing area, level of allowable contact, sport-specific equipment such as the design of the sticks used and design of the footwear, the design of the object of play, the number of players and positions, size and dimension of the goalnets used, and game rules and strategy.

Popularity and success of the sport

There exists a belief that until women's ice hockey was popularized in the 1990s that women and girls had not made any headway or experienced any true success on the ice rink in team sports either in North America or anywhere else in the world. The measure of female success was considered dependent upon widespread male acceptance and recognition of the female category of a sport already popularized by the male population.

However, by 1983, twenty years after ringette was created, there were over 14 500 ringette players in Canada. That same year the number of players registered in the female category of ice hockey in Canada, which was almost a century old, was a mere 5 379, less than 40% of ringette's numbers. As a result, the popularity of ringette superseded that of female ice hockey in Canada, and as a consequence of its popularity served to increase female participation rate in winter team skating sports in Canada overall. Until 1963 when ringette was invented, only one ice skating team sport existed in all of North America for either of the two sexes to play, which was ice hockey. The only other sport of this type, bandy, no longer existed in any form in North America where it failed to organize.

History

The Espanola High School girls ice hockey team in 1963-64 who played the first ringette game
The Espanola High School girls ice hockey team in 1963-64 who played the first ringette game

Created in Canada, the amateur winter sport was initiated as a civic recreation project in Northern Ontario for youth during the 1960s with girls as its focus. Girls had few sports of their own and typically it was male players who were the driving force behind the growth, development and popularity of organized sports. Girls broomball and ice hockey programs did exist at the time but both programs had been observed to be unsuccessful.

Initially conceptualized by Samuel Perry Jacks as a potential winter season court sport for girls it eventually developed into an ice skating team sport instead with Mirl Arthur "Red" McCarthy establishing its basic design and first set of official rules through experimentation. Important meeting places where the sport was being developed at the time included the "Chalet" in Trout Creek, Ontario, Moose Lake Lodge in Onaping, Ontario (now part of Greater Sudbury), and the Royal Canadian Air Force base (RCAF) in North Bay, Ontario.

The Northern Ontario town of Espanola is considered "The Home of Ringette" where its first official rules were drafted by Red McCarthy, while the Northern Ontario city of North Bay is considered the "Birthplace of Ringette" where the sports initial creator, Sam Jacks was working when he first developed the sport as a concept. Sam Jacks is credited as the game's inventor. Despite these historical differences, today the title of "birthplace of ringette" is often shared by both.[54]

Scarcity of winter team sports

In regards to team sports, few winter-based team sports options existed for organized play during the long winter season in North America and worldwide. Only two ice skating team sports were in existence whereby two opposing teams faced-off: ice hockey and bandy. At the same time, the Scandinavian sport of rinkball did not yet exist and had only begun to emerge as a form of practice for bandy players in Sweden in the 1960s. Rinkball wouldn't become an organized sport until roughly the 1980s in Finland. In addition, only two skateless games of the same basic format were in existence, broomball and sponge hockey.

Adding a girls program for the ice skating team sport of bandy was not an option due to the fact that bandy itself was non-existent in Canada and had long disappeared from the North American continent entirely where it had failed to organize and only existed as a faint memory. In addition, bandy requires the use of a frozen field of ice the size of a soccer field, while ice hockey, figure skating and curling had helped popularize the use of the smaller sized ice rink. By the turn of the early 20th century, bandy, which at that point was commonly called, "hockey on the ice", was essentially absorbed into the new sport of ice hockey, and as a result did not exist as an organized sport in Canada. Bandy as an organized sport would not be introduced to Canada until the 1980s in Winnipeg, Manitoba where a group of men became the first to pursue it.

While the ice hockey variant and cult sport of Spongee,[15] a.k.a. "sponge hockey", where ice skates are verboten, began to emerge in the Canadian city of Winnipeg in the 1950s, Spongee only began to organize around the 1970s and was, and still is, largely unknown outside of the Manitoban city and therefore never became an option to consider.

Regardless of this limited set of choices, there wasn't a single case where there was a winter team sport that girls and women could officially call their own.

Early development

The early development of the sport is believed to have initially been influenced by a variety of floor hockey games which were played in a style used during the early half of the 20th century. Notably, these games used bladeless sticks and did not use a ball or a puck, but instead used a flat disk with a hole in the centre. These floor hockey games were adopted, organized and practiced by many existing Canadian youth clubs and organizations. Floor hockey had also been adopted by public schools for youth gym classes.[55][19] It is important to note that the game of gym ringette is not a true variant of floor hockey as it is a derived from the ice sport of ringette, with gym ringette having been designed during the late 20th century while floor hockey emerged during the early part of the 20th century.

Sam Jacks

Play action during a floor hockey game (codified by Sam Jacks of Canada), part of a tournament for Cub Scouts held in Cap-Rouge, Québec, Canada, spring 1986
Play action during a floor hockey game (codified by Sam Jacks of Canada), part of a tournament for Cub Scouts held in Cap-Rouge, Québec, Canada, spring 1986

Samuel Perry Jacks is the Canadian credited for the initial idea which inspired the development of the ice skating sport of ringette, believed to have been influenced in part due to both his experience and exposure to the youth game of floor hockey, a game whose rules he codified in 1936.[56] Jacks was responsible for helping form the Society of Directors of Municipal Recreation of Ontario (SDMRO)[57][58] and became its first President. Jacks would later ask for credit to be given to the Northern Ontario Recreation Directors Association (NORDA) for the creation of ringette.[citation needed]

NORDA and the SDMRO

The Northern Ontario Recreation Directors Association (NORDA) was a regional organization composed of members from a large area that included the Ontario communities of North Bay, Espanola, Deep River, Elliot Lake, Huntsville, Sturgeon Falls, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Onaping and Phelps, as well as Témiscaming, Québec. Bob Reid of Temiskaming was the secretary and chairman of NORDA and the director of recreation for Témiscaming.

NORDA included the two official founders of ringette, Sam Jacks, from West Ferris, Ontario, director of Parks and Recreation for the city of North Bay, Ontario and Mirl "Red" McCarthy, recreation director for the town of Espanola, Ontario. At the time Sam Jacks was also the President of the Society of Directors of Municipal Recreation of Ontario (SDMRO).

While Sam Jacks was a member of NORDA in 1963, he was also the SDMRO President. The two organizations overlapped with NORDA representing the recreation directors in Northern Ontario. Jacks was also the Canadian responsible for the first basic idea and rules for ringette. While the SDMRO was directly involved in the project spearheaded by Jacks to develop a new winter team sport for girls, it was NORDA, primarily due to Red McCarthy, that played a significant and primary role in the early development of the sport as well as its official foundational rules. After the first rules were organized and established by McCarthy, they were then presented to the SDMRO by NORDA. The SDMRO then helped further the development and growth of ringette.

First rules

According to the first complete set of ringette rules drafted in 1965–1966 in a meeting with the Society of Directors of Municipal Recreation of Ontario (SDMRO),[3] the organization created by Sam Jacks, it was recognized that while both girls broomball and girls ice hockey programs were already available, they were nevertheless unsuccessful in drawing in and maintaining female participation during the winter season. It also observed criticism that their sports programs tended to be too "male-oriented". Ringette was created in the hopes of correcting these problems in the administration of sport for females in the regional areas under the existing authority of the Society of Directors of Municipal Recreation of Ontario (SDMRO) and the Northern Ontario Recreation Directors Association (NORDA).

For as long as Municipal Recreation has existed there has been, with some justification, a concern that our sports tended to be male orientated.

Over the years attempts have been made to discover or create a new winter court or rink game for girls. Broomball was such a game, and for some time girls' Ice Hockey had a certain success. Neither of these games seemed to have the acceptance of the female population as indicated by lack of growth.

Ringette is a new attempt to provide a winter team sport, on skates, for girls.[3]

— "Ringette Rules (A Game on Skates for Girls)", Society of Directors of Municipal Recreation of Ontario (1965-1966)

At the time, Samuel Perry Jacks (more commonly known as Sam Jacks), who was by then in West Ferris, Ontario, had been working as the first Director of Parks and Recreation for the city of North Bay, Ontario since 1948.[56] In 1963 he became the President of the Society of Directors of Municipal Recreation of Ontario (SDMRO).[57] Jacks was the only director in the organization's history who was elected president for two consecutive terms. He was a major contributor for the organization and was also responsible for designing the Society's coat of arms. He also served on a number of vital standing committees.[59] It was during this period in the 1960s that Jacks, who was responsible for the sport as an initial idea, promoted the game and its future potential extensively.

As time went by Sam had many teams in West Ferris and surrounding areas playing on outdoor rinks and using boys skates. He never doubted for a moment his game would flourish. He drove his friends crazy promoting it. Eventually his game was tried out in an arena further north, and by 1965 Sam's basic rules were refined. As you all know, various changes have taken place over the years.[60]

— Mrs. Agnes Jacks, wife of Sam Jacks and Ringette Ambassador

Early organization

The two organizations responsible for the early development of the sport were the Northern Ontario Recreation Directors Association (NORDA), and the Society of Directors of Municipal Recreation of Ontario (SDMRO).

Naming the sport

The first time the name "ringette" is mentioned was at the Northern Ontario Recreation Directors Association (NORDA) meetings held on January 20 and 21, 1963 in Sudbury, Ontario. Sam Jacks advised the group that "he had been working on a new girls' court game". Jacks had first considered an inside floor game for females, presumably based on his previous success with floor hockey.[61]

At their September 15 and 16, 1963 meeting at North Bay's RCAF base, Sam Jacks informed the group that he would "like to have NORDA receive credit as a body for the birth of this game." Each one of the sports directors left this meeting agreeing to develop the game in their own community and report their findings at the next NORDA meeting in early 1964.

Ringette as an established sport

The sport was officially invented in 1963 by the two founders of ringette, Samuel Perry Jacks, from West Ferris, Ontario, director of Parks and Recreation for the city of North Bay, Ontario and Mirl "Red" McCarthy, recreation director for the town of Espanola, Ontario. The game was initially experimented with using girls ice hockey players from Espanola High School (Espanola, Ontario). The title of "birthplace of ringette" is generally shared by both North Bay, Ontario, and Espanola, Ontario.

The first ringette game was played in the fall of 1963 in Espanola under the direction of McCarthy along with Lauren Van Volkenburg.[62] North Bay did not have enough ice time available to experiment with the new sport. The first experimental ring was unsuccessful as it was found to stick to the ice and was soon replaced by a deck tennis ring.[63]

Sam Jacks is the Canadian credited as the sport's visionary and was inducted into the Canada's Sports Hall of Fame as a "Builder" in 2007 posthumously [64] while McCarthy is considered the sport's co-founder.

Samuel Perry Jacks[59] and Mirl (Red) Arthur McCarthy[65] were both inducted into the Ringette Canada Hall of Fame as "Founder"'s of the sport in 1988.[65] However, due to Sam Jacks having passed away in 1975, his induction was post-humous.

After the creation of ringette, Sam Jacks stated that he wanted the Northern Ontario Recreation Directors Association (NORDA) to receive credit for the birth of the sport.

1960s

1963 Beginning stage

The first time the name "ringette" is mentioned was at the Northern Ontario Recreation Directors Association (NORDA) meetings held on January 20 and 21, 1963 in Sudbury, Ontario.[63]

The first "game" of ringette took place under the direction of Mirl Arthur "Red" McCarthy at the Espanola Arena in the fall of 1963 between Espanola high school girls, some of whom were high school ice hockey players.[13]

1963–1964 Experimental rules

The Espanola High School girls ice hockey team in 1963-64 who played the first ringette game
The Espanola High School girls ice hockey team in 1963-64 who played the first ringette game

In 1963, Sam Jacks introduced his idea of a new game for girls[66][67] to the Society of Directors of Municipal Recreation of Ontario (SDMRO) an organization of which he was president. The Espanola, Ontario, recreation director, Mirl Arthur "Red" McCarthy, was then asked by the SDMRO to experiment with the basic set of Ringette rules given to him.[68] In addition, McCarthy was also the arena manager in Espanola at that time and had the benefit of access to ice time[63] when its availability in North Bay where Sam Jacks resided was scarce. In Espanola in the fall of 1963 at the Espanola Arena, the first game of ringette was held under McCarthy's guidance between a group of girls ice hockey players from Espanola High School (Espanola, Ontario). He wrote up a set of rules and created a ring for this occasion, still on display inside the Espanola arena.

Upon returning to Espanola I contacted some girls who had played some hockey during physical education classes. I asked them if they could come over at noon hours and try some ideas for a new girls game. They agreed, and each day the group would get an idea, try it, discuss it and then make some changes.[13]

— Norm Mayer, "The origins of ringette", The Sudbury Star (1989)

In 1963–1964, McCarthy's original ringette rules became experimental in the following Northern Ontario and Quebec communities:

1963 Introduction to Quebec

Ringette was introduced to the province of Québec by Bob Reid, director of recreation for Témiscaming, secretary, and chairman of NORDA.

Early 1964

On January 19 and 20, 1964, McCarthy presented a written list of rules which he had developed, combined with comments and observations to the Northern Ontario Recreation Directors Association (NORDA) at their meeting at Moose Lake Lodge in Onaping, Ontario (now part of Greater Sudbury).

1964 Further development in Quebec

The original rules of ringette, developed by Red McCarthy, were introduced to Mount Royal by Herb Linder, a personal friend of Sam Jacks.

1964–1965 First Ringette League

In 1964–1965, Sudbury, Ontario formed the first-ever ringette league, comprising four teams. Diana Heit, assistant program director of Sudbury Parks and Recreation department, helped the teams with schedules, rules, and coaching.

1965 Introduction to North Bay, Ontario

On January 21, 1965, ringette was introduced in North Bay, Ontario at Kiwanis Playground with teams from Kiwanis and Police zones participating. The game ended in a 5–5 overtime tie. Attempts were being made to form a four-team league.[69] Growth in ringette came slowly to North Bay as ice time was seldom available. It was not until 1971-72 that West Ferris, Ontario, today part of North Bay, had a four-team league operating.

1965 First Complete Rule Set

On May 31, 1965, at "the Chalet", in Trout Creek, Ontario, a set of rules for the sport of ringette developed by Mirl Arthur "Red" McCarthy were presented by the Northern Directors (NORDA) to the Society of Directors of Municipal Recreation of Ontario (SDMRO). The group then published the first set of rules for the new sport under the SDMRO title.[3] While a key figure in the development of ringette at this point, Red McCarthy was not present at this particular meeting.[70]

At a meeting of the Northern Directors at the Chalet in Trout Creek on May 31, 1965, the first complete set of rules were finally drawn up. McCarthy was unable to make that meeting, but Jacks was present. George Kormos, Bob Bateman, Diana Mulcahey, all of Sudbury, and Dave Bass of Onaping were all present for the historic event.

— "The origins of ringette: Espanola's McCarthy developed the game", The Sudbury Star 1989, Norm Mayer

Bob Reid of Temiscaming who at the time was the director of recreation for Témiscaming, was also the secretary and chairman of NORDA, the Northern Ontario Recreation Directors Association.

Ontario recreationists attending the SDMRO meeting at that time were recorded to include:


1965–1966 NORDA and the SDMRO

By 1965–66, the Northern Ontario Recreation Directors Association (NORDA) decided that they had carried the game about as far as it could go. The Society of Directors of Municipal Recreation of Ontario (SDMRO) was chosen to develop and organize it further on a larger scale in Northern Ontario. Three years later in 1969 the first provincial governing body for ringette was formed in Ontario, called the "Ontario Ringette Association".[68]


1966 First Invitational Ringette Tournament

First ever ringette crest from 1966 tournament in Temiscaming, Quebec
First ever ringette crest from 1966 tournament in Temiscaming, Quebec

March 5, 1966, marked the sport's first invitational tournament. The tournament called the "Northern Ontario and Quebec championships", was held in Temiscaming, Quebec. Five teams participated: North Bay Police Playground, Sudbury Rose Marie Playground, Sudbury East End Playground, Temiscaming Reds, and Temiscaming Whites. The winning team was the Temiscaming Reds.

The tournament created many firsts for the game of ringette:

  1. The first ringette tournament.
  2. The first interprovincial tournament.
  3. The first tournament in Quebec.
  4. The first ringette tournament in Canadian and world history.
  5. The first indoor tournament.
  6. The first tournament on artificial ice.
  7. The first crests ever created and awarded for the sport.[72]


1969 First Manitoba ringette team

Manitoba creates their first ringette team, the "Wildwood",[73] two years after the sport was first introduced in 1967 to the province in Fort Garry, Winnipeg.[68]

1970s to 1980s

By 1973, an agreement was worked out between the Society of Directors of Municipal Recreation of Ontario (SDMRO) and the Ontario Ringette Association (ORA) where the copyright to the Official Ringette Rules would be held by the ORA. Finally, in 1983 in agreement with the ORA, these rights were acquired by Ringette Canada. Today, the Ontario Ringette Association goes by the name, "Ringette Ontario".

The legacy of Samuel and Agnes Jacks

The West Ferris Arena, today called the West Ferris Centennial Community Centre, was built in 1967, four years after the birth and invention of the sport in 1963. The arena, surrounding ball fields, and tennis courts are together called the Sam Jacks Recreational Complex.

After Sam Jacks died in May 1975, his wife Agnes Jacks CM promoted the game and acted as an ambassador for the sport until her own death in April 2005. She was awarded the Order of Canada.

The legacy of Mirl "Red" McCarthy

Mirl "Red" McCarthy was a Canadian sportsman,c0-founder, and co-inventor of the sport of ringette. McCarthy developed the first set of rules in Espanola, Ontario in the fall of 1963.

Literature

Cobalt, Ontario

In 2004, Kenneth Stewart Collins, whose hometown was Temiscaming, Quebec, wrote an 80-page book published by the Highway Book Shop in Cobalt, Ontario called, "The Ring Starts Here: An Illustrated History of Ringette".[75][76][77]

I wrote this book to give some due to Temiscaming, Espanola, Sudbury and other towns I felt weren't getting any credit for funding and growing ringette...Ringette was first played in Espanola in 1963 and Sudbury was where the first leagues were formed in the playground system.

— "Book on ringette has strong Sudbury", Northern Life/Sudbury.com Mar 21, 2006, Scott Hunter Haddow

To date, it is the only known book published in English on the subject of the sport's history and origin. Cobalt, Ontario is a town in the Timiskaming District, in Ontario, Canada. It had a population of 1,118 as of the 2016 national Census. The town has never had a recorded population that has reached more than 5,638 residents. The Highway Book Shop operated from 1957 to 2011. Considered a landmark and cultural institution in the region, it was one of the largest and most famous independent bookstores in Canada.

General chronology of equipment design and development

Ringette equipment began from very few requirements and involved simplistic, inexpensive and easily recycled materials. Most of the designs for protective equipment used in ringette were either directly from or borrowed from the sports of ice hockey, broomball, and sometimes other sports such as volleyball (knee protection).

Over time the amount of equipment required has increased. New rules governing required safety features and standards have been gradually introduced as well as design improvements for performance, protection and aesthetics. Some newer equipment developments like ringette facemasks, ringette sticks, and ringette goalie gloves, are specific and exclusive to the sport itself. While the standard equipment used in ringette has improved over time in terms of both function and safety, equipment has also become increasingly complex and expensive.

Ringette equipment history
Equipment First used Official
Ice skates Figure skates and
ice hockey skates
Ice hockey skates
Player position markers Coloured cloth arm bands
(colours determined by player position)
Stick colours denoting player position - No arm bands,
- No specific stick colours (colour choice)
Ring[63] - felt floor hockey ring
- deck tennis ring
- Rubber pneumatic ice ring
- Gym ringette ring
- "Turbo ring" (practice/target ring)
Ringette sticks Wooden ice hockey stick with blade cut off - Manufactured wooden ringette sticks (no tips) in either red (defense), white (centre), or blue (wing)
- Stick colours denoted player positions
- Wood or composite ringette sticks with drag-tips, some of which are replaceable
- No specific stick colours (colour choice)
Ringette tips No tips Variety of drag-tip designs made of steel, aluminum or plastic, some of which are replaceable
Mouth-guards No mouth-guards Required in some areas
Head protection No helmets Helmets, sometimes with attached chin guards Helmets which must be compatible with facemask designs specifically made for ringette
- Half visors are illegal and have never been used or approved
Facial protection No facial protection - Ice hockey wire cages
- Ice hockey clear face shields
- Ice hockey wire-shield combo
- Half visors illegal
- Specific ringette design for wire cages, clear shield facemasks, and wire-shield combos including ringette goaltenders
- Half visors illegal
- All face-masks must be affixed to an approved, compatible helmet
Elbow pads No elbow pads Same as in ice hockey Same as in ice hockey
Shoulder pads No shoulder pads Same as in ice hockey - Same as in ice hockey, also includes protection for chest
- Ringette design, lighter

- Some leagues and age groups require shoulder pads, others do not

Player gloves None, or mitts or winter gloves Ice hockey gloves Ice hockey gloves
Ringette pants No specific pant, but no hockey pants (shorts) Tight fitting slacks or jogging pants - "Cooperalls" with shoulder straps which attach at the waist
- Ringette pants today (extend from waist to ankle) with an adjustable waist belt, constructed with materials which make them lightweight, breathable, water repellent, durable, and tear resistant
Knee and shin protection No protection Knee pads, usually from volleyball, no shinguards One piece knee and shinguard protectors
Genital protection No genital protection Single piece genital protector called a "jill" Genital protector called a "jill", often built into protective girdle
Protective girdle No protective girdles Protective girdle separate from genital protector (jill) One piece protective girdle, design includes protection for hips, tailbone, kidneys and a built-in genital protector (a.k.a. a "jill")
Goalie equipment Same as ice hockey Same as ice hockey Same as in ice hockey except:
- Ringette specific facemasks required, must be affixed to approved goalie helmet
- Ringette goalie glove (aka "Nami" or "Keely") available

First ringette sticks

Before conventional ringette sticks were created, sticks were made from the shafts of wooden ice hockey sticks by cutting off the hockey blade. Drag-tips did not exist.

While the early game used coloured pieces of cloth tied around players's arms to denote player positions, this practice was eventually scrapped and replaced upon the suggestion of Mirl Arthur McCarthy by painting sticks either red for the defensive players, blue for the "wingers" who were forwards, and white for the centre player. This was done in order to help players and officials determine when players were illegally entering and violating the restricted playing zones.

Today ringette sticks are designed with drag-tips fit for use on the ice, some of which are replaceable, while players have free choice as to what color of stick they would like to use without restriction.

Impact on ice hockey

Although ringette is younger than ice hockey by more than half a century, it has had an unintentional influence on ice hockey at certain points in its history including a minor effect on men's professional ice hockey and a larger impact on girl's and women's ice hockey.

The ringette line in ice hockey

The "ringette line" began to have a potential impact on men's professional ice hockey in 2012 in regards to the American Hockey League with several professionals including Toronto Maple Leafs general manager, Brian Burke considering its possible application in ice hockey to correct certain areas of concern about the game.[78]

Use of ringette concepts

A number of case examples exist where the use of a ringette concepts and its rings have been used in ice hockey practices dating back to the late 1970s when then Toronto Maple Leafs head coach, Roger Neilson used ringette and rings to add variation to his team's practices.[79] After observing this, the coach of the Czechoslovakia men's national ice hockey team, Karel Gut, took notes on the game, went home, and made some of his own modifications in order to apply it to a training system that doubled as a training aid for Czechoslovakia's university ice hockey teams.

Impact on women's ice hockey

In the 1990s in Canada the development of women's ice hockey which had stagnated and stalled was strongly influenced by ringette due to aggressive recruiting efforts by those involved in ice hockey to attract a substantial number of ringette players from Canada's already existing ringette system since Canadian ringette had more than double the amount of female ice hockey players. Both sports use the ice hockey skate which made ringette players attractive prospects to help grow Canada's female ice hockey system which was far smaller than the ringette system.

International Ringette Federation (IRF)

Main article: International Ringette Federation

The International Ringette Federation (IRF) is the highest governing body for the sport of ringette.[80]

In 1986, the first successful attempt to organize a group dedicated to the promotion and development of the sport of ringette globally resulted in the creation of the World Ringette Council. The sporting body was also determined to establish an elite level of international competition for ringette.

The World Ringette Championships (WRC) was held for the first time in 1990. The following year in 1991 the World Ringette Council changed its name to the International Ringette Federation (IRF) possibly to avoid confusion due to the fact that it had the same acronym as the world event.[81]

Today, Canada, Finland and Sweden are members of the International Ringette Federation (IRF). Historically, Canada and Finland have been the most active ambassadors in the International Federation. Canada and Finland regularly travel across various countries to demonstrate how ringette is played. Canadian teams have demonstrated in countries including Japan, Australia, Iceland, and New Zealand.

In 2012, the International Ringette Federation announced new promotional activities in Norway, Slovakia, as well as in South Korea.

Olympic status

Ringette as a sport is currently not recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and therefore does not have a spot in the Olympics.[2] The IOC asked Canada to stage a Heritage games event for the sports of ringette, broomball, and lacrosse, during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, but the three sports were unable to meet the objective and the event never materialized.[82]

The sport of ringette has what is known as a relatively narrow profile because the sport is played predominately (in an organized form) by girls and women in only four nations: Canada, Finland, Sweden, and the United States. In addition, due to aggressive lobbying by western and European gender feminists in the 1980s–1990s, the Olympics now have a firm rule, a consequence of affirmative action policy making, that no new sport seeking Olympic admission will be allowed into the Olympics unless it is played by both females and males at the international level, and also requires each sport to have an international organizing body which organizes international championships for both boys and girls and men and women. As a result, sports played predominantly by women such as netball which have a broad profile, and sports like ringette which formed a female category of elite players first rather than male, are automatically excluded from the acceptance of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Because organized team sports worldwide are almost unilaterally most popular with males, their female variants and categories develop secondarily. As a result, these new rules discriminate against and exclude team sports which are most popular with female athletes, a group that is already at an immediate disadvantage due to the fact that popular interest in sports by males is prevalent worldwide. Regardless of the reality of these disadvantages, sports like ringette and netball can no longer have a profile that includes sex-based exclusion if they wish to be accepted by the IOC on the same grounds as sports with male and female categories. As a result, sports with male and female categories can obtain access even if the competitive depth and skill level of the female category of said sport and its female participation rates are dismal.

It is because ringette has not obtained Olympic status that in Canada the sport does not receive federal financing.[83]

Outreach efforts by officials in both Canada and Finland to have the sport recognized by the International Olympic Committee for inclusion have not been successful, since the sport is active in few countries.[84] Marketing methods have included using social media as well as word of mouth.

Semi-professional ringette leagues

Currently there are three different semi-professional ringette leagues worldwide in three different countries: Canada, Finland, and Sweden. In Canada, the semi-pro league is the National Ringette League. In Finland, the semi-pro league is Ringeten SM-sarja. In Sweden, the semi-pro league is Ringette Dam-SM.

National Ringette League

Main article: National Ringette League

Bourassa Royal playing against the Montréal Mission during the 2011 – 2012 NRL season
Bourassa Royal playing against the Montréal Mission during the 2011 – 2012 NRL season

Canada

The National Ringette League[85] (also indicated by the initials NRL) is the premier showcase league for the sport of ringette in Canada and was introduced during the 2004–2005 ringette season. It is Canada's national league for elite ringette players aged 18+. The league operates by grouping together the very best players over the age of 19 in Canada and includes open-aged players at AA/AAA level. In 2010 the league put back in place previous age groups, which had been changed.

The NRL consists of twelve teams as of the 2021 – 2022 season, (down from 15 pre-covid-19), and is separated into two conferences. The Western Conference and the Eastern Conference has 10 teams with a Red division and a White division. The NRL is administered directly from Ringette Canada, the guiding organization for ringette in Canada.

National Ringette League teams:

In the 2021 – 2022 season, the BC Thunder (British Columbia) in the Western Conference and a number of other teams did not put forward a team, a consequent effect of the covid-19 pandemic. However a new team, the Nepean Ravens, was formed in Ontario, and a new team, the Saskatchewan Heat, was formed in Saskatchewan. The Manitoba Intact renamed the "Manitoba Herd".

2021-2022 NRL Teams (Hub format - 12 teams)
East RED East WHITE Western
Gatineau Fusion Atlantic Attack Calgary RATH
Cambridge Turbos Riv Sud Revolution Edmonton WAM!
Waterloo Wildfire Montreal Mission Manitoba Herd
Nepean Ravens Edmonton Gold Rush
Saskatchewan Heat

The final competition for the National Ringette League is held annually at the Canadian Ringette Championships. The winning team in the NRL division is awarded the Jeanne Sauvé Memorial Cup[86] named after the late Governor General of Canada, Jeanne Sauvé. Initially coined the Jeanne Sauvé Cup and initiated in December 1984, it was first presented at the 1985 Canadian Ringette Championships in Dollard des Ormeaux, Québec. It is now entitled the Jeanne Sauvé Memorial Cup, in memory of the late Governor General of Canada and is awarded to the best team in the National Ringette League.

Canada's Rick Mercer visited the National Ringette League's Cambridge Turbos in 2009 to shoot an episode about ringette in Canada.[87]

Ringeten SM-sarja

Main article: fi:Ringeten SM-sarja

Finland

Ringeten SM-sarja,[88] or the Finnish 'Ringette Championship Series'[89][90] is the semi-professional ringette league in Finland and the highest level of ringette in Finland. The league has been in operation since the 1987-1988 winter season. SM is a common abbreviation for Suomen mestaruus, "Finnish championship".

The Ringette Championship Series is administered by the Finnish Rinkball and Ringette Association.

In 2021–2022, the league entered its 34th season with nine teams playing in the championship series.

Finnish Ringette Championship league series teams in season 2021–2022:

2021–22 Ringeten SM-sarja (9 teams)
Kiekko-Espoo Helsinki Ringette Tuusula Blue Rings
Lahti Ringette Nokian Urheilijat - NoU (Nokia Athletes) RNK Flyers
Laitilan Jyske Ringette Tampere Ilves (Lynx) LuKi -82 (Luvian Kiekko -82)

Finnish Ringette Clubs

Raision Nuorisokiekko ry (RNK) Raisio Youth Hockey Association

Main article: fi:Raision Nuorisokiekko

Finnish: Raision Nuorisokiekko ry (abbreviated as RNK) or Raisio Youth Hockey Association in English, is a Raisio, Finland ice sports club whose sports include hockey, ringette and figure skating. The club's teams play their home matches in Raisio's Kerttula ice rinks. The ringette team is sometimes known as the RNK Flyers.

The representative ringette team plays in the Ringeten SM-sarja (Ringette Championship Series). RNK placed second in the 2011 Ringette World Club Championship. One of the club's best-known players is Susanna Tapani.

Nokian Urheilijat (NoU) or Nokia Athletes

Main article: fi:Nokian Urheilijat

Finnish: Nokian Urheilijat (abbreviated as NoU) or Nokia Athletes in English, is a Nokia Sports Club founded in 1926. Nokian Athletes is focused on skiing, athletics, women's gymnastics, and ringette. Heikki Viherlaakso is the chairman of Nokian Urheilujoki. The club has just over 1,000 members. Nokia Athletes have been represented by, among others, sprinter and long jumper Otto Kilpi and javelin thrower Sanni Utriainen.

Espoon Kiekkoseura (EKS) Espoo Hockey Club

Main article: fi:Espoon Kiekkoseura

Finnish: Espoon Kiekkoseura or Kiekko-Espoo (abbreviated as EKS) or The Espoo Hockey Club in English, is an Espoo ice hockey and ringette club founded in 1988. In ringette, the club's representative team plays in the Ringeten SM-sarja, where it has won one a championship silver and three championship bronze. The Espoo Hockey Club is known for its excellent educational work. The EKS-Espoo Ringette Club finished fourth at the 2008 Ringette World Club Championship.

Hyvinkää Ringette

Main article: fi:Hyvinkää Ringette

Finnish: Hyvinkää Ringette is a Ringette club from Hyvinkää, whose representative team plays in the Ringeten SM-sarja. During its history, Hyvinkää Ringette has won two Finnish championships (1995 and 1997) and three silver medals (1992, 1993 and 1996). The above results were achieved under the name of Jää-Ahmat Ringette (Ice-Glutton Ringette).

Ringette landed in Hyvinkää in the spring of 1984, when at that time the employees of the Hyvinkää Ice Ahme C-69 junior team Lasse Ahokas, Asko Eloranta and Jorma Peurala organized the first drills at Puolimatka field. The trio had become acquainted with the sport when the hockey junior team they coached had been on a tournament trip in Tuusula and a ringette was played on the other field.

The ringette business officially started as Jää-Ahmat Ringette, when on September 9, 1985, Hyvinkää Jää-Ahmat approved ringette as a member of the hockey club at its meeting.

The rise of the sport in Hyvinkää was rapid and by the 1992–1993 season the club already had five teams: a women's representative team, as well as B, C, D and E juniors. Jää-Ahmat Ringete's heyday coincided in the mid-90s, when the representative team won the Finnish Championship gold twice and silver three times for placing second.

Eventually, ringette separated from the hockey club forming Hyvinkää Ringette. During the 1998–1999 season, Jää-Ahmat Ringete's employees began to work on splitting from the hockey club into their own association. The split finally took place in January 1999, when the Hyvinkää Ringette Association was founded. However, operations continued along the line familiar from Jää-Ahmo, and by 2009 the Hyvinkää Ringette had become the second-largest ringette club in Finland in terms of membership.

Every year, Hyvinkää Ringette organizes a ringette school for beginners.

Lapinlahden Luistin -89 (LL-89) Gulf of Lapland Skate Club

Main article: fi:Lapinlahden Luistin -89

Finnish: Lapinlahden Luistin -89 (abbreviation LL-89) or Gulf of Lapland Skate Club in English, is a club specializing in ice sports from the municipality of Lapinlahti in Pohjois-Savo, whose sports include ice hockey, rinkball, ringette, and figure skating. The home hall of the club is the Lapinlahti ice rink.

In the Ringette Championship Series, LL-89 has won the Ringete Finnish Championship nine times, in 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2018 and 2021.

LL-89 also won gold at the 2011 Ringette World Club Championship which was a six-team tournament held in Turku.

In 2014–2016, the ringette team played two seasons of ice hockey in the women's Mestis, then made a return to the ringette.

The team from the 2016–2017 season played in Ringet's No. 1 series and at the end of the season moved up to the Finnish Championships.

In the middle of the championship 2021, the club announced that it would relinquish its series place in the ringette championship series as many experienced players had ended their careers. The club will start building a new rise with a young team from the lower league level.

The club also has several junior teams in hockey and ringette.

Luvian Kiekko -82 or LuKi-82

Main article: fi:Luvian Kiekko -82

Finnish: Luvian Kiekko -82 (abbreviated LuKi-82) is an ice hockey and ringette club founded in 1982 by Luvia, a municipality in Eurajoki, whose representative ringette team plays in the Ringeten-SM-sarja (the Ringete Finnish Championship).

LuKi-82 is a three-time Finnish Ringette champion. In 2008 at the first Ringette World Club Championship held in Sault Ste. Marie, Canada, the team placed second and took home the silver medal.

LuKi also took part in the 2011 Ringette World Club Championship in December 2011 in Kupittaa, Turku.

Laitilan Jyske

In the 2021–2022 season, Laitila will compete in the Finnish Ringette Championship series after a 22-year break.

Clubs 2011–2012 season

The league consisted of eight clubs during the 2011–2012 season:

2011–12 Ringeten SM-sarja clubs
VG-62 Tuusula Ringette
Lapinlahden Luistin Luvian Kiekko
Hyvinkää Ringette Lahti Ringette
Helsinki Ringette Raision Nuorisokiekko

Clubs 2019–2020 season

In the 2019–2020, the 33rd season, the Ringeten SM-sarja championship was taken by Nokian Urheilijat (Nokia Athletes). Eight teams played in the championship series.

Finnish Ringette Championship league series teams in season 2019–2020:

2019–20 Ringeten SM-sarja (8 clubs)
Espoon Kiekkoseura (Espoo Hockey Club) Helsinki Ringette
Hyvinkää Ringette Lahti Ringette
Luistin -89 (Lapinlahti Skate -89) Luvian Kiekko -82 (Luvian Puck -82)
Nokian Urheilijat (Nokia Athletes) Raision Nuorisokiekko

Clubs 2021–2022 season

In 2021–2022, the league entered its 34th season with nine teams playing in the championship series.

Finnish Ringette Championship league series teams in season 2021–2022:

2021–22 Ringeten SM-sarja
Kiekko-Espoo Helsinki Ringette
Tuusula Blue Rings Lahti Ringette
Nokian Urheilijat - NoU (Nokia Athletes) RNK Flyers
Laitilan Jyske Ringette Tampere Ilves (Lynx)
LuKi -82 (Luvian Kiekko -82)

Ringeten SM-sarja Finnish Champions 1988–Present

Year Finnish National Champion team
1988 VG-62
1989 VG-62
1990 VG-62
1991 VG-62
1992 VG-62
1993 Lahti Ringette
1994 Tuusula Ringette
1995 Hyvinkää Ringette
1996 Tuusula Ringette
1997 Hyvinkää Ringette
1998 Tuusula Ringette
1999 Tuusula Ringette
2000 Tuusula Ringette
2001 Tuusula Ringette
2002 LL-89 (Lapinlahden Luistin -89)
2003 LL-89 (Lapinlahden Luistin -89)
2004 LuKi-82 (Luvian Kiekko -82)
2005 LuKi-82
2006 VG-62
2007 LuKi-82 (Luvian Kiekko -82)
2008 Helsinki Ringette
2009 LL-89 (Lapinlahden Luistin -89)
2010 LL-89 (Lapinlahden Luistin -89)
2011 RNK Flyers (Raision Nuorisokiekko ry)
2012 LL-89 (Lapinlahden Luistin -89)
2013 LL-89 (Lapinlahden Luistin -89)
2014 LL-89 (Lapinlahden Luistin -89)
2015 Nokian Urheilijat[91]
2016 Nokian Urheilijat (Nokia Athletes)
2017 RNK Flyers (Raision Nuorisokiekko ry)
2018 LL-89 (Lapinlahden Luistin -89)
2019 Nokian Urheilijat[92]
2020 Nokian Urheilijat[93]
2021 LL-89 (Lapinlahden Luistin -89)

National Finnish ringette championship titles

Team Titles
Lapinlahden Luistin -89 (LL-89)[94] 8
Tuusula Ringette 6
VG-62[95] 6
Luvian Kiekko -82 (LuKi-82)[96] 3
Nokian Urheilijat 4
Hyvinkää Ringette[97] 2
Raision Nuorisokiekko (RNK)[98] 2
Helsinki Ringette[99][100] 1
Lahti Ringette 1
Espoon Kiekkoseura (Espoo Hockey Club) 0

Ringette Dam-SM

Sweden

The elite ringette competition in Sweden is Ringette Dam-SM. SM stands for, "Swedish Championship", (svenska mästerskapet).

Swedish clubs

The elite league Ringetteförbundet was established in 1994, the same year the Swedish Ringette Association was formed. The league groups together seven semi-professional women's clubs:

Ringetteförbundet clubs
Kista Hockey[101] IFK Salem[102]
IK Huge[103] Järna SK[104]
Segeltorps IF[105] Sollentuna HC[106]
Ulriksdals SK[107]

Several junior teams and numerous amateur teams are connected with these 7 semi-pro clubs. Most Swedish ringette associations are located in the Mälardalen region.[108] There are programs of "twin towns" between the Swedish ringette association and Canadian associations for the development of the sport within the Swedish population. More than 6,000 girls are registered annually.[109]

Ringette by country

Canada

The national sporting body governing the sport of ringette in Canada is Ringette Canada.[110] The Ottawa-based national body is also responsible promoting the sport. The national organizing body has a hall of fame for ringette participants in Canada called the Ringette Canada Hall of Fame which was established in 1988.[111][112] Today Canada's semi-professional ringette league is the National Ringette League. The largest ringette tournament in the country is the annual Esso Golden Ring Tournament in Calgary, Alberta which takes place in the month of January. The 35th anniversary of the tournament takes place January 14–16, 2022.[113]

In Canada, ringette was added to the Canada Winter Games program in 1991.[114] The next Canada Winter Games will take place in Prince Edward Island in 2023.[115] Canada's elite ringette players compete at the end of every ringette season in the Canadian Ringette Championships which also includes the final competition for the National Ringette League (NRL). The next Canadian Ringette Championships will be the 2022 Canadian Ringette Championships and will be hosted in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, April 3–9, 2022.[116]

Participation

In the 2017–2018 Canadian ringette season 31,168 players were registered to play ringette in Canada, the highest known participation rate for a season.[84][117][118] Players participated on nearly 2,000 teams in eight age categories across the country. The largest increases were observed in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Today the sport is played in all ten Canadian provinces and the Northwest Territories and involves an average of 50,000 participants a year.

By 1983, twenty years after ringette was created, there were over 14 500 ringette players in Canada. That same year the number of players registered in the female category of ice hockey in Canada, which was almost a century old, was a mere 5 379, less than 40% of ringette's numbers. However, while it wasn't until the 1990s that body checking was removed from the elite women's level of ice hockey, body checking in some of the women's hockey leagues in Canada were completely removed in 1986, as is stated in, "On the Edge: Women Making Hockey History".

A decrease in the number of ringette athletes during the 1990s has been attributed at least partially to women's ice hockey being recognized officially as an Olympic sport in 1998[84][119][120] but largely due to the decision by major governing body's for the women's hockey game to exclude body checking.[83] Body checking was removed from the women's ice hockey program by the International Ice Hockey Federation in the 1990's.

Unlike ringette which is a non-contact sport, female ice hockey until the 1990s included body checking, a tactic that had proven unpopular among female players. The tactic wouldn't be removed from the women's ice hockey game until after the first women's world ice hockey championships in 1990. After the removal of body checking from the women's game, registrations in female ice hockey experienced a noticeable and sizeable increase. In addition, the women's ice hockey game was included in the Winter Olympic program for the first time in 1998 and televised internationally in its new format with body checking removed from the women's game.

Competitive structure

Levels of competition in Canada are based on age group and skill, and range from recreational to competitive. Elite level competition includes university ringette, both Canadian national ringette teams (junior and senior) who compete at the World Ringette Championships, and the National Ringette League.

Levels of competition in Canadian ringette include: Rec, C, B, BB, A, and AA and AAA, with AA being the highest level at which league competition occurs. AAA ringette is typically specific to particular regions who feel another category is necessary to clarify their league or tournament play. For example: AAA teams out of Quebec have played AA teams out of Alberta at various tournaments, including the National Championships.

In Canada, the province of Alberta considers AA the highest level of skill required, although they are deemed equal to the AAA teams from other Canadian provinces such as Quebec. In comparison to ice hockey, playing AA ringette is the skill equivalent of playing AAA hockey.

University and college ringette

In Canada, ringette players have the opportunity to play their sport at the university and occasionally the college level in several provinces. The organizing body for the post-secondary level is known as Canadian University & College Ringette Association which is abbreviated, "CUR" due to its initial name, "Canadian University Ringette".[121] The first tournament took place at the University of Winnipeg in 1999.

Canadian Ringette Championships

Canada's elite ringette players compete at the end of every ringette season in the Canadian Ringette Championships which also includes the final competition for the National Ringette League (NRL). The next Canadian Ringette Championships will be the 2022 Canadian Ringette Championships and will be hosted in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, April 3–9, 2022.[116] The first championship was held in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1979.

Canadian National Ringette Teams

Canada selects two national ringette teams for international competition: one national junior team and one national senior team. Both teams compete in the international elite World Ringette Championships. The Canadian National Ringette Team has competed in every World Ringette Championship.

Canada Winter Games

Ringette was first added to the Canada Winter Games[122] in 1991.[123] The next Canada Winter Games will take place in Prince Edward Island in 2023.[115]

Provincial multi-sport events

Provincial multi-sport tournaments in Canada
Province Event First event Ringette added
British Columbia
BC Winter Games 1978
Alberta
Alberta Winter Games 1974
Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan Winter Games 1972 No event
Manitoba
Manitoba Winter Games 1974
Ontario
Ontario Winter Games 1970 1976
Quebec
Quebec Winter Games 1971
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia Winter Games
New Brunswick
New Brunswick Winter Games
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador
Winter Games
Prince Edward Island
PEI Winter Games

Cross-sport participation

Bandy

Main article: Canada women's national bandy team

Some of Canada's national level ringette players have also played bandy for the Canadian women's national bandy team.[124][125][126][127][128] Both the women's and men's Canadian national bandy teams are based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Some players have played in the National Ringette League and on Canada's National Ringette Team. The bandy team has included top level ringette players like Ainsley Ferguson, Carrie Nash, Shelley Hruska, Amy Clarkson, and Lindsay Burns. Their best results are 4th at the 2007 Women's Bandy World Championship and 2010.

Canada's first goal scored in the nations history of organized women's bandy was by Lindsay Burns.[129] Burns has also played for Canada's National Ringette Team.[130]

The women's national bandy team was part of a 2010, 2 part documentary by Ora Walker called "True North Strong",[131] however the documentary did not mention the players with backgrounds in ringette, the Canadian national ringette team or the National Ringette League.

Male players

Although the sport of ringette is played predominantly by a female demographic, boys are permitted to play but are restricted to competing at the "B" level or lower in many ringette organizations. Efforts have been made to include male players at the AA level in limited areas where the sport is played. Boys have participated in U9 or U6 divisions in some Canadian provinces.

Finland

Juhani "Juuso" Wahlsten is known as the "Father of Ringette" in Finland
Juhani "Juuso" Wahlsten is known as the "Father of Ringette" in Finland

In Finland, the national organization for the sport of ringette is Ringette Finland.[132] The National Association of Ringuette of Finland (Ringette Finland) was created in 1983. Today Finland has a semi-professional ringette league called Ringeten SM-sarja.

In 1979, Juhani Wahlsten, also known as "Juuso" Wahlsten, introduced ringette in Finland and is considered the "Father of Ringette" in the country.[133]

Wahlsten created some teams in Turku. Finland's first ringette club was Ringetteläisiä Turun Siniset and the country's first ringette tournament took place in December, 1980.

In 1979 Juhani Wahlsten invited two coaches, Wendy King and Evelyn Watson, from Dollard des Ormeaux (a suburb of Montreal Quebec, Canada) to teach girls of various ages how to play ringette.

The Ringette Association of Turku was established in 1981 with several Canadian coaches going there to help teach, establish and design the training, and administration for its formation. The ski national week then organized an annual tournament to bring together all the ringette teams.

The 1985 tournament included several hundred girls making it impossible to combine into a single event all the age groups and all the categories of players.

A number of different Canadian ringette teams visited in the winter of 1986 and helped increased the popularity of the sport in Finland.

Levels of play

Finland National Ringette Team logo
Finland National Ringette Team logo

Finnish ringette takes place at the local amateur level to the professional level. The premier ringette league in Finland is Finnish: Ringeten SM-sarja, or the 'Ringette Championship Series'.[89][90] Finland also selects two teams, both junior and senior divisions, for the World Ringette Championships.

Participation in Finland

The most recent figures have recorded over an estimated 10,000 ringette players registered to play ringette in Finland.[134] Players participate in 31 ringette clubs. Several cities have important clubs: Naantali, Turku, Uusikaupunki.

Finland National Ringette Teams

Finland selects two national ringette teams for international competition: one national junior team and one national senior team. Both teams compete in the international elite World Ringette Championship tournament. The Finland National Ringette Team has competed in every World Ringette Championship.

Sweden

There are more than 6,000 registered ringette players in Sweden every year. Sweden regularly forms a national ringette team to compete at the World Ringette Championships. It has on occasion formed a Junior (U19) national ringette team.

Ringette was introduced to Sweden in the 1980s.[109] The first ringette club was Ulriksdals, in Stockholm. Most Swedish ringette associations are located in the Mälardalen region. There are programs of "twin towns" between Swedish ringette associations and Canadian ringette associations for the development of the sport within the Swedish population.

The national federation of ringette of Sweden was established in 1990.[108] The elite league Ringetteförbundet was established in 1994, and the Swedish Ringette Association was formed the same year.

The Swedish Ringette Association, Svenska Ringetteförbundet,[108] is a special sports association for ringette formed in 1994 and was elected as an associate member of the Swedish Sports Confederation, Riksidrottsförbundet, in 2003.[135] The association's office is located in Solna. The premier ringette competition in Sweden is Ringette Dam-SM. All of its elite players are women.

United States

In the early years of the sport in the US,[136] ringette was played in various places in Michigan during the mid-1970s and 1980s and was most popular in Alpena and Flint. After the sport fizzled out in the area and the local association disbanded around the late 1980s, a revival later occurred and the Michigan association is operating again in the state today. In the mid-1970s ringette was introduced to Minnesota. During the same period the sport was established in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and Viroqua and Onalaska, Wisconsin.

National teams

The national ringette team of the USA competes regularly at the World Ringette Championships. The last World Championship appearance by Team USA Ringette was in the 2019 World Ringette Championships in Burnaby, British Columbia: Team USA took on Sweden and the Czech Republic in the President's Pool, falling to Sweden in the championship game 5–3. Team USA brought home the silver while Sweden brought home the gold and the President's trophy. The next World Ringette Championships will be held in 2022 in Espoo, Finland.

The two national sporting organizations for ringette in the USA are USA Ringette[137] and Team USA Ringette.[138][139] Notable in the success of Team USA's development is coach Phyllis Sadoway,[140] who was head coach for Team USA in the World Ringette Championships of 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2013 and was inducted as a coach into the Ringette Canada Hall of Fame in 2012.[141]

International competitions

World Ringette Championship

Main article: World Ringette Championships

The World Ringette Championship is the premier international ringette competition between ringette-playing nations. The tournament is organized by the International Ringette Federation. In the beginning, the World Ringette Championships were held every other year, but have been held every two or three years since the 2004 World Ringette Championships were hosted in Sweden.

The winning national senior team is awarded the Sam Jacks Trophy. The winning national junior team is awarded the Juhani Wahlsten Trophy.

World Junior Ringette Championships

Main article: World Ringette Championships § World Junior Ringette Championships

This event has since merged with the World Ringette Championships and no longer exists as a separate tournament.

The first World Junior Ringette Championships took place in August, 2009 in Prague, Czech Republic: two Canadian teams, Canada West Under-19[142] and Canada-East Under-19[143] faced two Finnish teams, Finland White and Finland Blue.[144]

Ringette World Club Championship

Main article: Ringette World Club Championship

Initially organized by the International Ringette Federation as a separate tournament from the World Ringette Championships, this tournament no longer exists.

The Ringette World Club Championship was an international ringette competition organized by the International Ringette Federation. It featured the top teams of the Canadian National Ringette League (NRL), the Finnish Ringeten SM-sarja and Swedish Ringette Dam-SM. The World Club Championship was held in 2008 and 2011.

Czech Ringette Challenge Cup

Traditionally held in Prague, Czech Republic, the Czech Ringette Challenge Cup is the only tournament of its kind in Central Europe. The last tournament was held 19–21 July 2019. It was the 16th annual Czech Ringette Challenge Cup.[145]

National competitions

Semi-professional leagues

For information on the semi-professional ringette leagues:

Canada Canada: National Ringette League
Finland Finland: Ringeten SM-sarja
Sweden Sweden: Ringette Dam-SM

Canadian Ringette Championships

Main article: Canadian Ringette Championships

The Championnats Canadien d'Ringuette/Canadian Ringette Championships (CRC) took place for the first time in 1979 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.[146] This tournament was created in order to be able to determine the Canadian champions in the categories of Under-16 years, Under-19 years and Open (replaced by the National Ringette League since 2008). The Canadian Ringette Championships usually take place in April every year.

Eastern Canadian Ringette Championships

The Eastern Canadian Ringette Championships (ECRC) are an annual tournament involving the provinces of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario

Teams from the participating provinces compete in the following 4 divisions since 2002: U14AA, U16A, U19A and 18+ A.

Western Canadian Ringette Championships

The Western Canadian Ringette Championships (WCRC) is an annual competition that brings together teams from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. The tournament's inaugural year was 2003.

The Championship is typically held at the end of March and includes U14, U16, U19 and 18+ divisions of competition.

Each of the four Western Canadian Provinces is eligible to send one Provincial team at each age division. The Host is able to enter a host team at U16, U19 and 18+ to create a five team division. U14 is a ten team division made up of two teams from each province and two wildcard draws.

Canada Winter Games

The Canada Winter Games are considered an important national event in Canada and is considered to be a key event in the development of Canada's young athletes. The multi-sport competition involves the best young Canadian athletes competing in their age groups. The entire event is of two weeks in duration and is held every 4 years. Today twenty-one sports appear in the program.

Ringette has been part of the Canada Winter Games since 1991.[123] The ringette program takes part during one of the two weeks of the Canada Winter Games. Competition usually begins on Mondays followed by the semi-final on Friday evening with the National final taking place on Saturdays. The best ringette athletes from ten Canadian provinces are selected to compete on their representative provincial teams.

The next Canada Winter Games will take place in Prince Edward Island in 2023.[115]

Canada Winter Games: Ringette Champions (1991-2019)
Year Location Gold Silver Bronze
2019[147] Alberta Red Deer, Alberta Quebec Ontario Manitoba
2015[148] British Columbia Prince George, British Columbia Manitoba Ontario New Brunswick
2011[149] Nova Scotia Halifax, Nova Scotia Ontario Alberta Quebec
2007[150] Yukon Whitehorse, Yukon Ontario Alberta Quebec
2003[151] New Brunswick Bathurst and Campbellton, New Brunswick Ontario Manitoba British Columbia
1999[152] Dominion of Newfoundland Cornerbrook, Newfoundland Ontario Manitoba Saskatchewan
1995[153] Alberta Grande Prairie, Alberta Alberta Manitoba British Columbia
1991[154] Prince Edward Island Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island Alberta Ontario British Columbia

University competition

In Canada, students who are ringette players have the opportunity to play their sport at the university level and occasionally college level in several provinces. The country's organizing body for ringette at the post-secondary level is known as the Canadian University & College Ringette Association (abbreviated CUR).[121] The national competition between university ringette teams is called the University Challenge Cup (UCC). The first UCC tournament took place at the University of Winnipeg in 1999.

U Sports, (stylized as U SPORTS) is the national sport governing body of university sport in Canada, comprising the majority of degree-granting universities in the country. It was formerly called "Canadian Interuniversity Sport". Its equivalent body for organized sports at colleges in Canada is the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA). Some institutions are members of both bodies for different sports.

Ontario university teams

The university's varsity ringette teams in Ontario compete in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) conference of U Sports.

Scholarship opportunities

Scholarship opportunities in Canada include the Agnes Jacks scholarship, named after the wife of Sam Jacks who served as an ambassador of the sport until her death.

Canadian university competition

The annual competition between competing universities in Canada is known as the "University Challenge Cup". The tournament groups together ringette teams from various Canadian universities[155] in 2 conferences and is organized by the Canadian University & College Ringette Association (CUR).

Canadian universities and colleges with ringette teams include 12 schools within the province of Ontario, as well as others across Canada.

Some teams did not reconvene after the COVID-19 crisis commenced in 2019:

Canadian University Ringette Teams
Ontario (12 teams)[156] Other
McMaster University Dalhousie University (Nova Scotia)
University of Western Ontario University of Calgary (Calgary Dinos, Alberta)
Wilfrid Laurier University University of Lethbridge (Alberta)
Guelph University University of Alberta and MacEwan University
Nipissing University (Nipissing Lakers) Conestoga College
Brock University
Queen's University at Kingston
Carleton University
Laurentian University
Trent University
University of Waterloo
University of Ottawa

Other Canadian universities that have been known to have had teams: Lakehead University (Thunder Bay, Ontario), Mount Royal University (Calgary), Simon Fraser University (British Columbia), and the Université de Sherbrooke (Quebec).[157]

University Challenge Cup

The University Challenge Cup (UCC) is an annual competition in Canada which groups together ringette teams from various Canadian universities[158] in 2 conferences and is organized by the sports association known as Canadian University & College Ringette Association (CUR). The first competition took place at the University of Winnipeg in 1999.

The UCC typically involves in excess of 350 players, coaches, referees and tournament staff.

University Champions
Year Host University[159] Gold
Tier 1
Gold
Tier 2
2021 Carleton University
2020[160][161] Wilfrid Laurier University cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic
2019 Wilfrid Laurier University University of Calgary Dalhousie University
2018 University of Guelph University of Calgary[162] Wilfrid Laurier University
2017 University of Guelph[163] University of Ottawa[164] McMaster University[165]
2016 University of Calgary[166] University of Calgary N/A
2015 University of Calgary[166] University N. Alberta N/A
2014 Nipissing University[166] University N. Alberta University of Guelph
2013 Nipissing University[166] University of Alberta McMaster University
2012 University of Western Ontario[166] University of Alberta McMaster University
2011 University of Western Ontario[166] University of Calgary University of Western Ontario
2010 Brock University[166] University of Calgary University of Western Ontario
2009 Brock University[167] University of Calgary University of Western Ontario[168]
2008 University of Ottawa[169] University of Calgary N/A
2007 University of Ottawa[170] University of Calgary N/A
2006 University of Ottawa N/A
2005 University of Manitoba[171] University of Calgary N/A
2004 University of Winnipeg[172] University of Calgary N/A
2003 College of Saint-Boniface N/A
2002 College of Saint-Boniface N/A
2001 University of Manitoba, Team A N/A
2000 College of Saint-Boniface N/A
1999 University of Winnipeg University of Winnipeg N/A

State funding for ringette organizations

Ringette as a sport is currently not recognized by the International Olympic Committee[2] and therefore does not have a spot in the Olympics which has led to a lack of state funding.

Gender politics

The Canadian sport predates America's Title IX by almost a decade. Despite its unusual success in acquiring a participation base consisting of predominantly female players and developing an elite level where all elite athletes are female rather than male, barriers to its growth include the difficulty in drawing media attention and securing financial support due to the fact that as a pioneering sports model designed for female participants, it does not meet the criteria necessary to qualify as a women's category which can only be achieved if the sport is a women's variant of a popular sports model set by men, i.e. women's ice hockey.

Media and cultural stigma against ringette as a female sport

Media in Canada as well as in some parts of the ringette community itself, increasingly avoid calling ringette a girls' sport or claim there is a "stigma" against males playing ringette[173][174] when the opposite is in fact the case. Not only are female ringette players rarely highlighted by Canadian media, girls and women's ice hockey players are given more exposure and are often publicly praised for playing a "male dominated sport" and fulfilling social justice ambitions a.k.a. "fighting the patriarchy" despite being far less successful than their male counterparts overall. There are also radical progressives opposed to the use of the words, "girl's sport", or "women's sport" when discussing or promoting ringette, claiming this is politically incorrect and not "inclusive".

During the 1990s, Canadian campus feminists began targeting Canadian girls who had been registered to play ringette, (Ringette Canada), instead of ice hockey (Hockey Canada), characterizing and framing their participation in ringette instead of ice hockey as evidence of a hidden psycho-social failing. Young Canadian girls who were either registered by their parents to play ringette, or had a preference for ringette, were neither social regressives nor perverts in need of remedial help or rescue, nor were they victims of ignorant, backwards, and abusive parents. However, radical gender studies feminists began to characterize them as a Canadian example of young, unconscious female victims of a sexist society and patriarchal oppression, and who had subconsciously developed a form of internalized misogyny.[175]

Interestingly enough, when I asked them if anyone had ever discouraged them from playing sports, either generally or a particular sport, most of them initially replied "no." This was after they had told me that they had always wanted to play hockey! When I followed this question up with: "Why did you choose ringette instead of hockey?" they began to reveal to me numerous examples of subtle and overt forms of discouragement which they had buried in their consciousness.

— Aniko Varpalotai[176], Sport, Leisure and the Adolescent Girl Single Sex vs. CO-Ed?[175]

Gender feminists were playing the role of psychoanalysts yet did not have the professional qualifications, and opted to abandon academic rigour in favour of presenting pseudo assertions as fact. While Canadian feminist authorities and academics were never able to provide objective evidence that Canadian girls who played ringette instead of ice hockey were mentally inferior or deficient in any way, or that their participation in ringette served as evidence of a hidden group of Canadian victims of patriarchy who were suffering from a psycho-social handicap, their methodology, which included the use of leading questions, nevertheless remained unchallenged. As a result, these claims were never seriously investigated, became unquestioningly accepted within a number of academic institutions, and eventually became an accepted part of wider Canadian public discourse and cultural narratives around the subject of female participation in the sport of ringette, which has remained unquestioned in Canada.

It has also become fashionable to attack the female team sport of ringette for being primarily female driven instead of praising it as a success story. Ringette has long been noted for being exceptional in the sports world as a result of achieving a higher proportion of female players (including its top-tier elite athletes) than males rather than settling for a second tier spot as a "women's game" variant of a male sport. Unlike women's ice hockey for example, ringette was never a female variant of a male sport. Where this achievement was considered a success in the past, current feminist polemicists in sport have reversed course, using fallacious arguments and portraying this observation of obvious female success as a falsehood instead, preferring to criticize and reframe the sport as a failure in need of improvements which involve making unrealistic accommodations for male players in order to pay for its imaginary social and historical crimes. In addition, female participation in ringette itself is less likely to be considered remarkable unless it is considered to successfully reaffirm and reflect the sentiments of academia's gender studies elites and their personal intellectual commitments, while excusing popular gender feminist prejudice towards girls whose interests and concerns more closely resemble traditional ideas of femininity.

Controversy in Canada

In 2021, CBC Radio (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) produced two reports, one in print format[177] and the other as a related podcast,[178] on the subject of a biologically female teenage ringette goaltender[179] who identified as male who had competed in ringette in the Canadian province of Quebec. Though a ringette game involves the use of two opposing goaltenders the reports did not conduct interviews with any other ringette goalies in the league, elsewhere in Quebec, or elsewhere in Canada itself.

Disclosure

The report failed to disclose that the ringette player was an aspiring actress who had already made a debut in the Canadian film industry in a brief appearance as a boy named "Danny"[180] in 2020 on a TV show called, "Transplant".[181] The show's fictional plot involves an emergency room doctor (played by an actor of Pakistani descent) who has fled from Syria and has resumed his career in emergency medicine in Canada. In addition, both media reports failed to disclose to the public, by using obscure wording, the fact that the player had been born a biological female rather than a biological male which raised the question of the possible use of synthetic testosterone, considered a form of illegal doping in both Canadian amateur and professional sport. While the player at no point disclosed testosterone abuse it was subsequently discovered later through further investigation independent from CBC. Evidence that testosterone use was involved was evidenced by the deep voice heard in the related CBC News podcast[182] as well as an account told by the goalie whereby after she had begun her medical regimen, a ringette player on an opposing team turned to a teammate after handshakes at the end of the game and said, "See, I told you it was a dude!".

Male players

Due to the growing and unquestioning acceptance of American gender parity ideology in all contexts discussing women's sports, and the hesitancy to criticize or critique it, it has become increasingly common to encounter media accounts portraying ringette as a sexist, misandrist sport rather than a uniquely successful female sport. This has become increasingly obvious in a media context where those who wish for the sport to remain true to its roots (created exclusively for girls instead of boys) are demonized while the participation of boys playing ringette is celebrated and characterized as an example of boys bravely overcoming "gender stigma" and "gender stereotypes".[183][184] In such cases, the fact that ringette's origins and purpose is distinctly different from most women's sports, which are a category created by modifying sports primarily popular among males, and the fact that the sport is one of the few worldwide where the elite athletes are female instead of male, is completely eliminated from the narrative.

The vast majority of organized sports to date, including team sports, have been pioneered by boys and men who helped set and establish popular game models and rules codes for their respective sports. This has left those who wish to create a female category of their preferred team sport with the responsibility of making adjustments to the male model of the game in order to fit the needs and interests of girls and women. As a result, the female category of these sports are all variants of a more popular men's game. Ringette however was pioneered from the beginning for female players rather than for male players and has involved input from female players rather than males starting from when the sport began. As a result, the problems other female sports that are variants of men's sports have are not necessarily shared by the sport of ringette, except in the rare case of certain protective equipment needs and requirements such as genital and chest protection.

While there have been, on rare occasions, more recent attempts to organize and pilot entirely male ringette teams and leagues among youth[185] the sport since its inception has been developed and administered as a sport strictly for females rather than males. As a result, all elite ringette players in the sport are female athletes rather than male, both nationally and internationally. This approach towards the sport's development has the added benefit of avoiding male-female comparisons and allows it to give female athletes the spotlight by preventing male athletes from dominating the sport due to their biological advantages.[4]

Male goaltenders

Canadian public broadcasting media often focus on male ringette players when the story involves male goaltenders.[186][187][188] The manner in which they are written or presented often includes ideological spin doctoring using statements that frame the ringette community as exhibiting a sexist form discrimination against males (reverse sexism) and by effect avoid highlighting the reality that all team sports are dominated by male players except in a handful of rare, exceptional cases, of which the sport of ringette is one. These stories often repeat common misconceptions about the origin and history of ringette and are usually contextualized in a manner amplifying ideological oppression narratives while portraying boys as a disadvantaged class rather than girls. At times the word "stigma" is used when making claims of reverse sexism against males by the sport of ringette in order to avoid using the politically charged term, "reverse sexism".

Ringette teams require at least one designated goaltender to create an entire team and shortages of female goaltenders in ringette often result in teams recruiting male goalies in from ice hockey. Male ringette goalies are rarely older than 15–16 years of age.

Social justice funding in Canada

Because ringette has not obtained Olympic status, in Canada the sport does not receive federal financing.[83] This lack of federal funding puts pressure on sports organizations to pursue state funding by other means. One approach is securing funding from provincial finance ministries, who reward activities in relationship to Social Justice movements.

In 2013–14 this approach was used by 6 ringette associations who acquired thousands of dollars in relation to the British Columbia Ministry of Finance,[189] and included the following organizations:

Minnesota and gender politics

During the early 1990s in Minnesota, USA, the Minnesota State High School League lobbied the Minnesota Department of Education, and found itself in a position to project itself as the authoritative voice on girls sports interests.[196] The survey was made in relation to Title IX gender quotas rather than educational initiatives based on physical activity and health. The survey was conducted, designed and distributed in order to promote ice hockey, rather than promote the sports of ringette and bandy in conjunction with ice hockey, both non-contact team sports which were played in the state at that point in time. It also failed to promote girls broomball, another winter team sport activity played in the state. Promoting ice hockey, a well known sport most popular among males, was pursued due to Olympic hopes. The goal of multi-disciplinary growth and participation by girls in sport, preferred by those in sports medicine due to the increasing incidence of overuse-injuries among athletes, was ignored. Similarly, the survey made no mention of the high cost burden that would be incurred by parents due to the sports high cost requirement for participation beyond entry level programs. The survey methodology has never been made publicly available.

Notables in ringette

Notable international players

Finland

Canada

Gallery

Popular culture

Canada Post issued four stamps in a series entitled Canadian inventions: sports featuring four sports with Canadian origins: ringette, basketball, five-pin bowling and lacrosse.[74][200] The commemorative stamps were issued on August 10, 2009. The stamp featured well-worn equipment used in each sport with a background line drawing of the appropriate playing surface.

The sport was featured on an episode of the children's show Caillou.

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See also