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The benefit of the sport


Dear editor, Once again, this is the time of year when young hockey players with their parents and coaches will be traveling all over the province to take part in the highlight of their year — the Provincial Minor Hockey Championships.

Indeed they have already begun in the female divisions, and the controversies have quickly followed them.

I have been retired from the minor hockey scene for a few years, but during my time I was involved in many capacities including player, coach, tournament organizer, association president, and everything in between. I have always been a strong supporter of all minor sports, although I have also seen and experienced the negative aspects. Because of all of the experience that I have had, I hope that some of the players and young adults who are involved minor hockey (and other sports) will at least consider what I have to say.

Young hockey players play the game the way we (the adults) have taught and shown them. Believe it or not, when their coaches, their parents, Don Cherry or their hockey heroes speak — they listen. The lessons that they are learning come directly from us. If you are discouraged at all about the way the game is played, don’t blame them!

The question that I ask is this: “what is it that we are supposed to be teaching our minor hockey children?” If we are trying to teach them how to get to the NHL and become great hockey players, then maybe that explains some of the less than desirable actions that take place on and off the ice. But should that be the real goal of Minor sports? Should our main goal be to develop players for professional leagues?

I was recently on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin when I came across a simple plaque on one of their main buildings. It stated, “CORE PURPOSE - To transform lives for the benefit of society.” Upon reading it I was immediately struck by what it said and I thought, “that is exactly what minor hockey (any minor sport) should be about!” Are we in the business of developing hockey players or should we be using hockey as a means of developing strong future citizens. There is a wealth of things to be learned from a young person’s experience in minor hockey and to play the game at the best of their ability is just one of them. But in my opinion, it should not be near the top of the list in terms of what is the most important thing to take away from one’s minor hockey career.

In my time as an adult participant, I tried to keep in mind that the development of the young person was more important than the development of the hockey player. I would be the first to admit that there were times that I made mistakes and ‘the heat of the moment’ blurred my judgment. But in the long run my goal was to support all players, not just my own team.

Players, coaches, parents, organizers and all others, please think about why you are involved in minor hockey (or any minor program). Is it simply for you or someone else to make it to the big leagues or win a championship or is there more to it? When passions run high at this year’s tournaments a quick reflection to this question might help.

 Rob Fisher

Northern Arm

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