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So I've been just recently mastering ice skating and I'm getting pretty good at hockey from practice and I'm considering vouching for a small team to join soon.

I gave a few proposals, but was asked if I was part of the USAHockey group and I am not (didn't see a reason for it or didn't understand the purpose).

I checked the website and I am unsure what it is exactly.

Is this like a union or something? I read the benefits, but what is the purpose?

http://www.usahockey.com/membership

registering with USA Hockey provides all of the advantages of an unregistered league while eliminating the disadvantages.

So is it a league, group, union, all of the above, etc.? Is it a good idea to join if I intend to play hockey in minor league, or is this only for non-professional hockey? Yes, I am in the U.S.

Perhaps anyone can shed some more details on the purpose of this registration with regards to hockey, hockey players, and playing hockey professionally (in other words, for money).

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Quite simply, USA Hockey is the official governing organisation for amateur ice hockey in the USA. They decide what rules and regulations apply to national competitions; they educate and give accreditation to officials; they select the national teams; they run the Hall of Fame; they are the representative of USA in the IIHF and of USA ice hockey in the IOC.

They are not the organisers or managers of the USA NHL, but they claim a close partnership, and if you intend to play professionally, it is likely that you will need to play well in the amateur competitions that they do have oversight responsibility for - something that would almost certainly require membership.

I cannot find any regulation governing membership of USA-origin NHL players in external organisations and therefore cannot say whether USAH membership is neutral, recommended or even mandatory. However I doubt it would be considered a negative factor and therefore would be neutral at worst.

You can find a run-down of membership benefits in the PDF at http://www.usahockey.com/page/show/837667-usa-hockey-membership-benefits

Note that one is insurance, and some USAH policies relate to persons in contact with youth. Presumably a team or club or league has added financial and legal risk if allowing non-USAH members to play, and therefore may also mandate that you be a member before you can officially play (that is, if USAH itself doesn't; I cannot find a reference either way on this).

You should ask the team, club or league secretary if such a mandate is in place and whether they recommend membership, or what the potential outcomes would be for e.g. injury liability, playing and administration fees, eligibility.

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Local clubs, which you may join to play in a local league, can be affliates of USA Hockey. For example, local clubs in St. Louis belong to Missouri Hockey, which is an affliate of USA Hockey. As mentioned in the previous answer, USA Hockey provides benefits such as insurance, training, goverance, safety programs, and other benefits. If you want to participate in programs, leagues, and tournaments sponsored by a USA Hockey affiliated organization, you'll be required to join USA Hockey. The annual fee for 2016-2017 is $40 plus an affiliate fee that goes back to the local affiliate for its own governance, training, screening programs, etc. The 2016-2017 affliate fee for Missouri Hockey is $8 - it may be more or less for your local affliate. Annual membership runs from September 1st though August 31st. Renewals for the upcoming season start April 1st.

While most clubs in the United States are members of USA Hockey, it's not required for a local club to join. There are other governing organizations, like the Amateur Athletic Union for example, in which local clubs can participate. Or they could presumably stay independent if they provided their own insurance and such. However, organizations and players who are not members of USA Hockey may not participate in any USA Hockey program, and USA Hockey members can not participate in any non-USA Hockey sanctioned program. You can have dual membership, but that would be governed by the club.

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The main benefit is going to be insurance coverage. Many facilities require sports team participants to be registered with an organization that offers insurance coverage, so they don't have to go through the process of getting additional coverage, and then documenting people covered to the satisfaction of their facility's insurance carrier.

This coverage usually covers the team against liability and medical claims, and covers participants for medical costs if injured during an organized activity (practice, training, competition).

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