Here comes the weekend
Take your time, relax and digest this one. Video! Writing! A playlist and more!
Minor Hockey: Who’s it for?
This is a fictionalized blending of some of my minor hockey coaching experiences.
I will be posting a few of my thoughts, expressed as stories here on an occasional basis.
They aren’t coming.
That’s what I heard first when we pulled up at the rink.
They aren’t coming. The other team. They cancelled on account of the snow.
Friday. 5pm. Snow. Traffic. It took everyone an HOUR to get here.
And they cancelled and didn’t call?
I looked at the faces. The kids faces hung low. They were at the rink, dressed and ready to go.
Almost - their skates weren’t tied yet - but as the coach, that was my job.
The parents were shrugging restlessly. Some anxious to go eat and put the week to rest. Others, clinging to the hope that there might be a game to watch.
The ice was a clean canvas, freshly flooded.
We had ten skaters and two goalies.
We just didn’t have the other team
Get your skates on boys and girls. We’re going to play.
We sent them out on the ice and told them to play hockey.
They didn’t know what to do.
These 11 year old children, their lives managed, suffocated by their caring ‘let’s give them everything parents’ didn’t know how to organize a hockey game.
Their parents from the stands became agitated. Some started calling out directions.
I silenced them quickly.
What are you doing?
No. That’s not helpful. Let them struggle.
After a solid twenty minutes of chaos they figured it out. Five on five hockey with two goalies.
The parents were ready to kill me.
After 10 minutes of straight play, they adjusted the game. Two sat for each team. Three skated. Ten more minutes passed. One team was dominating the other. One of our better players swapped himself for a weaker one on the other team.
There were goals.
There were penalties.
The kids figured it out themselves
The parents were restrained from drenching the experience with their dreams, desires and ‘expertise’.
That was my job. I blasted well intended helicopters from the sky, smashed lawnmowers just as they got started. The parental compulsion to ‘fix’ things, the intolerance of discomfort, of unknowing was palpable.
I put on my angry face and glared at all comers.
I think George might need…
Don’t you think Sally wants to play…
It doesn’t look fair for Wendy…
Seriously? Shut up. Back the fuck up.
Who are the kids playing for? Themselves or you?
What is youth sport for?
Increasingly it seems like a meritocrat’s sorting hat. What’s it for?
Johnny is good at football and played for the local high school - there’ll be a job selling cars for him…
What’s it for?
So much effort attempting to be picked.
The youth sport industrial complex is deranged. Bettering and bettering the ratchet of progress clicks on. More money. More special. More. More. More. I YAM HOCKEY HEAR ME MOARRRRR!
Thousands of dollars in fundraising. Namebars. Presents for players. Presents for coaches. Uniforms without holes. Outings. Travel tournaments. Extra icetime. That great goalie coach… The list is endless…
And it’s killing sport and creativity.
After the practice, I’d never seen the kids so refreshed.
How was it folks?
CAN WE DO THAT AGAIN?
My solution for youth sport? Make it more like the old fogie sports that I play. Beer league style. (and really given that since there’s COVID no beer in the rink, it seems we should start calling it cannabis league but I digress)
I play pick up hockey every week. Just like I did as a kid. We show up. Pick teams. Skate and play. When things aren’t fair, we adjust on the fly. No try outs. No being picked. No evaluations.
No 15k of fundraising per person to be on the team…
Give them the gear.
Give them the minimum viable instruction and get out of the way.
I’ve been spending a lot of time writing.
I’ve been listening to a lot of minimalist composers.
Is that what it is?
Anyway… This guy. Steve Reich? He makes music to get lost inside.
And? He has great taste. Give it a listen. Worth your time.
This may or may not be someone I know…
One Derful Thing
Take a moment.
Pretend that you see a fly.
Which may be odd if you are currently in winter.
Make a buzzing sound and follow the imaginary fly with your eyes.
Make it change speeds.
Make it zig and zag before your eyes.
Catch it. Eat it.
If anyone questions you, tell them it’s keto.
And remember, this is make believe for grown ups.
And? Try to see how it works.
Reply to this and me a message to let me know how it goes.