As the pandemic starts to relinquish its clutches on our day-to-day lives and life as we know it starts to resume again, the resumption of sports is on the not too distant horizon for many parents. This pandemic has significantly impacted our lives and the lives of our children. That meant cancelling our late-summer to often late spring preoccupation with spending 5-6 nights a week at the hockey arena.
I’ve often said there is a huge opportunity for a reality TV show focusing on Canadian hockey parents. The most mellow and unassuming individual can be transformed into a hockey lunatic when their kid steps on the ice. Multiply that fourfold when hockey playoffs are happening. I’ve watched parents being escorted out of arenas because their behaviour is not becoming fans, let alone parents.
What I’m writing about this month is more of a preventative measure for parents who have kids in competitive sports, and in my particular case, competitive minor hockey. I believe that kids should be involved with intense activity, both as a physical and mental outlet.
The last year has made me particularly reflect on what we could have done differently, and more importantly, how we can prevent the same tragedy from happening again. I have two extraordinary boys that I need to be keenly aware of and watch for troubling indicators.
Over the years, hockey has given my kids a great deal of enjoyment. They’ve developed and improved their skills, grown in character, and learned respect and love for the game. I love watching the boys improve, have successes and failures, and support them after great games and lacklustre performances.
I’ve been associated with minor hockey for close to 15 years. Many of those years, I’ve been behind the bench in one capacity or another. Hockey has been a great source of enjoyment for me. I get to spend time with my boys, and it’s something we share and are passionate about together. Any parent with kids in the GTHL or any competitive minor hockey association understands how much commitment it entails.
Hockey also represents an important part of my social fabric. I’ve met some incredible people and parents over the years, many of which I will forever stay connected to in one capacity or another. I’ve also met some absolute headcases who I’ve questioned how Children’s Aid hasn’t taken their kids from them. Fortunately, most of the parents I have come across have been the former. Admittedly, there was a time when I thought my kids were a unique and special talent and destined for greatness on the ice. While my boys are excellent players, far more important to me is their personal experience on and off the ice. Their enjoyment and love of the game have become my barometer for change.
Does Winning Equal Fun?
Does winning equal fun? The short answer to this; it can be, and it should be. The higher up the hockey ranks you move, the more difficult this becomes to achieve. In the “G”, the fall season is barely underway when discussions of “next year’s team” become apparent. Parents start having quiet conversations with other parents, coaches and organizations about moving to a better team for the following year. This lunacy in the AAA ranks can start as early as November for a team that won’t officially start playing together until August or September of the following year. It’s insane!
Most of the better teams are predetermined well before tryout dates at the end of April. Tryouts become a validation of the year’s upcoming team. Everyone officially signs their cards, ending the worst secret in minor hockey; the official team roster.
Integrity Applies in Everything Except Hockey
In the GTHL, many parents act as unofficial agents for their kids. Many of the backroom dealings between parents and coaches come at the child’s exclusion in the process. The parents too often equate winning to fun, but it’s wrong and often mistaken. It’s important to listen to their child about their experiences on the ice and in the dressing room when making those decisions.
Fun is Good; Fun While Winning is Even Better
I’ve asked both Zac and Sawyer what is more important to them, winning or fun. Without any hesitation, both responded, “Fun”. I then asked what was more important to them, playing on a first-place team for an adamant coach who emphasized winning or a mid-pack team that still emphasized skills and team development but emphasized having fun. Once again, both chose the team that emphasized having fun. Both my boys are incredibly competitive and love to win, but I found their responses enlightening. Too many parents equate playing on a better team to a better experience. The question becomes “a better experience for the child or the parent?”
What Example Are We Truly Setting For Our Children?
As competitive as I am, I’ve learned to listen to my kids about their hockey experiences, expectations and want them to be included in that decision making process. I remember when both Zac and Sawyer were in Tyke and driving them home after a game. I’d look in the rearview mirror and see them smiling in the backseat, licking their sour key after a great game and thinking, “wow, so innocent and so untainted”. Many years later, the financial outlay has increased significantly, the pressure to win has increased exponentially, and significantly more nights are spent in a rink than at home. Has the boys’ outlook and approach to hockey changed significantly? I challenge that they feel greater pressure to be better, train harder and win more often, but the true essence for them to play hockey is for the love of the game, the camaraderie on the ice and in the dressing room and ultimately to have fun.
We need to remember that image of our kids in the backseat with the sour key and the big smile on their faces. You may want to check to see if that same smile is there on the drive home after their next game….and what we can do to bring that smile back again!
Would you please share this if you know at least one insane hockey parent? Let’s start making hockey about the kids again. Can we start applying those same ethics to hockey, which we’re so proud of in business?
Through the bankruptcy of his first business, a strong balance sheet means nothing unless you can get the money out of your business and into your hands personally, tax efficiently, and creditor protected. Chris helps and coaches business owners to avoid a similar fate as he suffered in his first business.
Through several clever strategies, he illustrates how these little-known vehicles can get money out of your business efficiently, build your corporate brand and create a legacy through charitable means to help make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.
Also, he has seen the impact that mental health can have upon success within your business and your life and how the two are on a constant collision course. When Chris became aware that Entrepreneurs struggled with their mental health at more than twice the rate of average adults, he realized he wasn’t alone and made it his ambition to understand why and do something to help. His business, The Finish Line Group, aims to help support the entrepreneur’s financial, philanthropic, and emotional needs.
Chris’ Why Statement remains, “To openly communicate the lessons learned from my past so that others will thrive in their lives, minimize their setbacks and leave a positive and lasting legacy.”