Thursday, February 9, 2012

Relax, It's Just a Game

It's been difficult to find time to write this. It's been in my head for a couple of weeks.
I touched on this a couple of years ago in relation to my kids and their attitudes of the sports that they play. My concerns of that time have totally vanished. The boys really enjoy their sports.
More recently I have posted about coaches who take it a little too seriously. More of that is in here.

If games are lost our guys don't sulk or dwell on it. We just enjoy the fact that they're playing and doing their best while having fun.

I admit that there are times when my own frustration level rises but these are usually due to what I feel is poor sportsmanship or less than stellar officiating. I've learned to bite my tongue as much as I can though.

Sometimes I miss when something bad goes down but hear about it from someone else afterwards.
Quite often I dismiss what I saw and figure that I may not have seen it correctly.

One thing that I am thankful and proud of is that my sons and the other members of their hockey team rarely retaliate.
Obviously they aren't always angels but for the amount of garbage I have seen them put up with they're doing darn well.

Check this out though.
Ever since the boys started playing hockey I have done my best to capture every goal and assist on video. I've missed a couple but have done surprisingly well.
I have almost 20 minutes of videos of T and B's goals and assists.

Something else I have learned about my videos is that while I'm catching the goals and assists I ALSO catch what is going on around it.
Several times I have been alarmed/disgusted at things I see.

Here are a couple of recent examples. I have done screen captures from the videos.
These first 2 were from a game back in January at a tournament in Fredericton Junction. Our guys wore the Bruin's black and yellow jerseys.

Both pictures are from the same game.
Fortunately the team they played against isn't a local team and they don't play against them very often.

In the first one that is my son B in the middle.
The player right beside the goalie and B had just been behind the net trying to get the puck. Another player had managed to get it and shot it up the ice.
I was watching and there were no issues with B and the other player. They did some minor scuffling to get to the puck but nobody was being rough or overly physical with the other.
When the puck left they just parted ways.

What we see in this picture is a third kid who was not involved with B or the other taking his stick and hitting B on the side of his leg. It was a pretty good smack too. I drew a blue arrow to show where he hits him.

It didn't hurt B but stung a bit.
You can see tell that everyone else's attention was on the other end of the ice and nobody would have seen this if I had not happened to still be recording.

I am at a loss to figure out why this kid did this. I didn't notice them having any altercations before this but they may have.

Did this kid do it because he was angry that B had scored the first goal against them? Or he feel that B roughed up his teammate when they were digging for the puck?

I don't think there is any excuse for taking a sucker shot to anyone like this. He didn't get called for it.

This next one ires me a bit more since it happened right in plain view of everyone and the other player wasn't called for it.
It's the same team as the one above but a different kid from the other team.

B had been out in front of the net and was in the process of getting over to where the puck was.
He had not had any contact with another player yet and was just going for the puck.

Number 15 on the other team came behind B and crosschecked him as he was reaching the puck.
B didn't fall but was pushed pretty solidly. It could have been very ugly if B had fallen into the boards.

I understand that the officials are only human and can't be and see everywhere at once. They do the best that they can.
But why didn't that linesman right there call this? These are the the officiating moments that irk me. If B had been hurt I would certainly have followed it up.

I openly confess that when I played hockey in my youth I was a hothead. I retaliated too often when someone hit me too hard or swatted me with their stick. I should have been more like my own kids and just skate away.

The biggest difference between when I played recreational level hockey and today's recreational level hockey is that we played a physical contact game from when we were little all the way up.

Physical contact is only allowed in the competitive levels here now, not recreational.

You know something though? As rough as we were with each other in those days we would never intentionally do something to try and actually injure the other guys. Even when we fought we kept our gloves and helmets on and just let off some steam.
The fact was that we knew these other guys. We had probably played on the same team with them in prior seasons. We went to school with them. We hung out with them. In the summer we played other sports together.
I can't imagine how terrible I would have felt if I had actually caused real harm to any of the other guys.

Imagine what people would have thought about me? Imagine walking through the hallway at school and people looking at you as "that guy" who hurt so-and-so.
That's nothing to be proud of. Not in my mind anyway.

The biggest problem that I am seeing in the boys' hockey now are an increasing number of kids who are actually a genuine danger to others.
A bigger problem is that when they have already shown their true colours they are allowed to remain in the league and do it again.

There is one lad who was on our boys team a couple of years ago. He seemed like a fairly decent kid back then. I had nothing against him.

This year he has been suspended for attacking other players.
Once, perhaps his emotions got the best of him. Two or three times, this kid has issues that need to be dealt with by those qualified to do so.
There is no place for them among the others who want to have fun and play the game.
The FYHA isn't a babysitting service or for disciplining our kids.
That's a parent's job.

This is about another boy whose team played against us a couple of weeks ago.
I had not actually noticed his behaviour in the other times we played against them.
I certainly did in this game.

In this game our team was losing for most of the game.
With about three minutes left in the game one of our guys scored and tied the score at 3-3.
I was standing at one of my usual areas behind the other team's goal.
When we got the tying goal I noticed this kid out the side of my eye swing his stick and hit the boards with it. He was visibly crying and obviously angry.
I thought it was a bit much for a player to be this upset at a recreational level but I was happy that we had tied the game and didn't pay him any more attention.

With about one minute left we scored again to go ahead 4-3. It was a great goal too. The kids were passing it well and really deserved it.

Then, with only 7 seconds left in the game my son B raced down the ice and backhanded a beautiful shot into the top corner to seal the game 5-3.

I captured this goal on video. When I watched it later on my computer I happened to notice a brief spot where the kid I mentioned above takes his stick to the goalpost of their net. I wasn't paying any attention to him at the time and missed it.
Here's a screen capture of it. My guy is celebrating and the other kid is swinging his stick.

This isn't the worst of it either.
A good friend of mine who's son was playing in the game after ours was watching our game from just off to the right of my picture.
He was watching this kid pretty closely. I was stunned to find out what I had missed.

After our team tied the game up this kid took off down the ice after our top player and speared him. Our player went down but no penalty was called.
When our team scored goal number four this boy took a run at his OWN GOALIE and speared him! His teammate!
I was told that this boy is continually smashing and swinging his stick around in games when he is angry.

Why isn't he being dealt with? Certainly they must know that there is a problem here.
If he is being dealt with it's not working.

One day someone is going to get seriously hurt by these types of players.

It's pretty clear to me.
Fix the problem before then. Deal with it now.
If it can't be easily remedied then these kids should be kept out until it is.

My last point is about those coaches who take it far too seriously.

About a month ago we played against the team that has the best player in the league.
This boy has been playing at the Triple A competitive level up until now.
Unfortunate circumstances have made it difficult for his family to handle the extra travel and added expense of playing competitive so he is in recreational hockey this year.

He is an incredible player and consistently scores the majority of his team's goals in every game. Quite often unassisted.
He is a nice boy and I definitely don't blame him for going out there and doing what he is capable of.

What bothers me is the attitude of his coach.
It appears to me that this coach expects to win every game and will not accept defeat.

In the last game against them we were losing 5-4. The superstar had scored 3 of their goals unassisted.

With 1.7 seconds left in the game our player made a great move and popped it in to tie the game.
I had never been so happy for a tie game as I was that night. The kids played their hearts out. Even if they didn't get a victory the tie was just as sweet.

The way I saw it was that there were no losers in the game. Everyone could be happy and satisfied with that outcome.

It appears that I was wrong.
I noted that I didn't see the other coach after the game.

One of our parents told me that as soon as we scored the tying goal the other coach looked furious and stormed out the back door by the team's bench.
He didn't speak to anyone or shake any one's hand. He just stormed out.

If he had somewhere to go in a rush at least he could have called over to the our coaches and then left.
Both teams always shake hands either before or after every game.
How many seconds would that have taken him?

I would expect that if someone behaves like this at a hockey game that it must affect other aspects of their lives.
Are they happy in their lives?
I understand the desire to win and competitive drive but shouldn't there be some downtime where you just stand back and enjoy the game?

Where are Bobby Orr and Ken Dryden? Mr. Orr and Mr. Dryden know more about The Game than anyone else ever could. Perhaps a trip to Fredericton for a little talk is in order?

These are a bunch of kids for crying out loud. This isn't competitive level hockey.
It's just a game after all.
Part of the definition is: Game - An activity providing entertainment or amusement.
Look it up.

Stay well,

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