A few years ago, a study found that 36 percent of players drafted by teams in the NHL were born in the first three months of the year while only 14 percent were born in the final three months. The conclusion suggested older kids, some by nine months or more, had more opportunities to develop in youth hockey.
Hockey uses birth year to separate age groups. Little League baseball uses April 30 as a cutoff date. I have one son who benefited from the baseball cutoff and a younger one who did not. In 2018, it will change to Aug. 31 starting in T-ball. None makes sense.
There is no perfect solution because kids develop at different rates. My sons are nearly two years apart but are only one year apart in baseball. Physically, they’re miles apart. It’s the same in hockey between kids born in January of one year and December the next.
One sensible answer for all sports is using graduation years as the cutoff. There are exceptions, but kids would develop mostly with their classmates. In high school, when it matters most, the best players would still stand out.