Shoot, Shoot, SHOOOOOOOTTTTTTT! Good God what’s wrong with that kid! Ah the refrains of an educated and understanding hockey parent! Or, maybe not. A bit of background, I have a 9 year-old daughter that is playing youth hockey and work in the sport directing Beginners Girls Hockey program for 4-14 year olds. Ked asked me to write about the whys and wherefores of the youth hockey world and my experiences as a hockey dad.
I love this game at every level and the experience that this great game provides for kids, adults and fans. As a kid it teaches humility, teamwork, discipline and too many other great qualities to list here. As an adult returning to the game it taught me all of those as well as enabling me to view life through the lens of a kid. Trust me, my goals now are to be semi-proficient for the 50+ league, not to be the next Bossy. Working with beginners and having a daughter playing has been an interesting experience, that has opened my eyes to the seedy underbelly of rivalry, unrealistic parental expectations and intensity from opposing fans (ie; Parents)
Let me start by saying this. WHAT THE HELL is wrong with hockey parents? I played as a kid, took a break and play now. As a kid, I chalked up the intensity to the bar at most rinks and the amount of beer that was around in the 70’s and the love of a good brawl at professional games. It was woven into the fabric of my hockey journey. I can’t tell you how many games I was carted home by a well-meaning mom or dad that had just a few moments before looked like a slobbering beast of intensity, but it was fed by drink, not over expectations of the child. It was seemingly a more innocent time.
First, for those that haven’t played the game, it is expensive. No really, cripplingly so. Ice time, refs, hotels, gear, replacing gear, pressure to have the best gear is a multibillion-dollar industry. So, parents I get it! But expecting your kid to be the next Crosby or Hillary Knight is a farce. Honestly you stand a much, much better chance, statistically speaking, of death by a Pickachu stuffy hurled from a moving car, causing decapitation. Don’t get me wrong, I want what’s best for all kids, but I don’t think that is the professionalization of youth sports is that.
With the removal of drink from the equation, people just need to chill the fuck out. Take a breath and enjoy the fruits of your labor, not to mention your loins. Too much?! Hey, entitled mom, quit telling me how your kid was knocked down because my kid ran into her. Have you spent any time with a weapon/tool in your hands on a frozen surface, holding on by a knife edge strapped to your feet? No, then grab some wood! Siddown! You are on a time out. Shit happens and alarmingly quick rate out there on the other side of the boards. Oh, and by the by, not because she’s my daughter, but because shit happens fast, your daughter’s teammate unintentionally slew-footed your daughter. So, quit interrupting my conversation with other parents to reassert your viewpoint. Too much coffee? Please take your rink rage and get a therapist. Our kids are 9! NINE! So, get a grip, set an example and quit banging on the glass.
Save that shit for the pros and I’ll be right by your side! If the Isles are playing the Rangers, it’ll always be the fault of the Rangers and the refs will always be against us. But for now, revel in the kid that can’t hold his stick correctly, but still has an ear to ear grin or the girl that has ankles that look like right angles, but plays with the heart of a lion, or the goalie that misses the shot from the blue line because he’s waving to his parents, because he’s finally wearing all of that gear. Expertise will come, let them enjoy the game for what it is, the best game that you can name. Take care, be well and enjoy life. See you soon! – Isle5Cleanup