I don’t pretend to be the one who has the answer, though I am looking forward to some stimulating discussions on that one. However, as I entered a good, Canadian, small town arena this weekend for an All-Ontario Final playoff game, I saw something that centred me in what hockey means to kids.
Creemore, Ontario, is a small community not far from Collingwood and the “Blue Mountains”. There, in that small arena, so similar to so many across the country, they have a sign prominently displayed on a wall. All spectators (and parents) have to walk by the sign to get to the narrow bleachers along one side of the ice.
The sign reads:
A PLEA FROM AN UNKNOWN YOUNGSTER Well here it is, another hockey season, So I’m writing to you for just one reason, Please don’t scream, or curse, or yell Remember I’m not in the NHL.
I’m only 9 years old And I can’t be bought, traded or sold I just want to have some fun, and play the game, And I’m not looking for hockey fame.
Please don’t make me feel I’ve committed a sin, Just because my team didn’t win, I don’t want to be that great, you see I’d rather play, have fun, and be Me.
And so in closing I’d like to give you a tip Remember the name of the game is SPORTMANSHIP
Placed here by concerned parents
This sign positioned where it was resonated with me because though the game is supposed to be about our children, it seems to be that sometimes are very adult egos get in the way. As I’m sure you have, I’ve heard parents yell things at hockey games that I know they would never say to their children off the ice. And, many of us have also witnessed those unpleasant exchanges between parents on opposing teams, the ones that make you wonder whether the referees should really be stationed on the ice, or in the crowds. This seems to escalate as pressure builds during the playoffs.
The “Plea from an Unknown Youngster” reminds me that though we want our kids to always dream big, we as parents need to keep our own egos in check and support our kids in learning SPORTSMANSHIP – to play hard, play fair, and have fun. I know that sometimes that’s easier said than done, but kudos to Creemore, Ontario, for putting that fact right out in the open.
Do you have a similar philosophy in your organization? Let’s hear about it! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment here!