The price of hockey politics
“In hockey, emphasis should be on fun and fitness, not winning.”
I always thought minor hockey was supposed to be fun. And it was, until I got into all-star hockey three years ago. In the beginning, minor hockey was everything that I thought it would be. It was fun, exciting and a great form of exercise. Our coaches were fair, encouraging and fun to be around. This was not the case, as I quickly found out when I joined all-star hockey.
The important themes and goals of minor hockey such as fair play and fun for all did not exist. The most important for the coaches was winning the game, and the Bay Arena being known as the best.
As a member of the Bay Arena Minor Hockey Association, I played the position of goaltender. It was a position of pressure but I loved it. I always had a great team of friends. If we lost I was never made to feel that it was my fault. If we won, we won as a team.
I was never picked for the A team, but I didn’t mind. I always thought I was better off on the B team because of the politics that took place on the A. There was always a great deal of pressure placed on the A team to win at all costs. They were expected to perform at their best all of the time and could not “have a bad game.”
The B team didn’t have those same expectations at the atom level and I didn’t expect them at the peewee level. Unfortunately, the politics started taking place on the B team, too. I witnessed players being given more ice time then others and coaches yelling at my friends. It became very important to win the game, not about having fun.
I personally experienced being given unequal ice time, broken promises from our head coach and disrespect. I was torn because I wanted to give up something I no longer enjoyed but I felt like I would be leaving my friends without a goalie for the remainder of the year. On the other hand, if I stayed my friends would be happy, but I wouldn’t.
My parents always said, “You can never make everybody happy, but it’s important to be happy with yourself.” I decided to quit. This changed my life because I found out that there is politics in everything and you can’t always do what makes everyone else happy. Even today, which is three months since I quit, I still wonder if I made the right decision. I still miss playing hockey with my friends and having fun. Michael Walsh is 12 years of age, and is the son of Debbie and Tom
Walsh. He writes from Cupids.
Michael wrote this essay last year when he was in Grace 7 at Amalgamated Academy in Bay Roberts. The essay was entered in an essay contest called “Turning Points,” which was sponsored by the Eastern School District, and placed in the Top 9 of some 2,200 entries. In light of the fact that a new minor hockey season is just around the corner, The Compass has agreed to reprint the essay.