The price of hockey pol­i­tics

The Compass - - OPINION -

“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.

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