Nine times out of ten when people find out that all three boys are in hockey, they ask one question: Why in the world do you do this to yourself? It’s a valid question. I mean, I don’t particularly relish the idea of spending every Saturday morning in a hockey rink from the crack of 6:30am until 9am. I have things to do that tend to only get done during those hours. But all last season, I was at the rink for that time period.
Last year was our very first year with all three in hockey. If you don’t think Boy #3 was vibrating with excitement to hit the rink, I haven’t properly introduced him to you. So all three. In hockey. Every Saturday morning was 6:30 to 9 am. At minimum. If I was lucky, it was all in the same rink, back to back practices.
This is madness.
So I’m sure you, like most of my friends and acquaintances, would like to know why in the world I would put all three children in hockey. Honestly, I don’t care what sport they pick. Right now it’s hockey, I fully anticipate Boy #2 choosing the pool in the next year or so. I’m not attached to one sport in particular. Just so we’re clear. But they do need a sport. And here’s why.
- It builds their village. They go to a small school so playing hockey with kids from other schools expands their social circle. On top of which, it introduces them to other adults who can be role models for them. It’s not a bad thing. Not even a little.
- It builds their confidence. Sports in general is good for a kid’s self esteem. There are studies. I have one boy that needs a little boost in that area. Just enough so that he doesn’t fight with it the same way I have.
- It gives them focus. Winter has a tendency to be cold. Shocking I know. This means that there are many days where going outside for long periods of time just isn’t going to happen. Hockey means that they have something that burns a modicum of energy at least one hour each week. This hour can mean the difference between my house remaining in one piece or being reduced to rubble. I wish I was exaggerating about this.
- It gives us something to do. There is something about having hockey practice that anchors the weekend. If I know that there are six hours of hockey practice in two days, you best believe I am going to plan the hell out of it to make sure that I get ish done. Mirror that with weekends without hockey practice and there’s a good chance you’ll find me on my couch with a book. Or possibly napping. It’s that whole concept of “If you want something done, ask a busy person” thing.
- It teaches them things that I can’t teach them: Things like team work. Losing gracefully. Winning with integrity. It reinforces their accountability. I don’t pack their hockey bags. They are in charge of making sure they have all their equipment. Once they hit Novice, they are expected to start getting the bulk of their equipment on. They are responsible for what they do on the ice. For the game they play and the practice they put in.
Now with those five reasons to put kids in organized sports, here’s two reasons not to.
- Because it’s what you want. Some kids hate sports. Or they hate team sports. Forcing them to do an optional activity is only going to cause hurt and resentment. For both of you. There are many better ways to spend your time and money if sports aren’t their thing.
- You are banking on them having a pro-career. Um, this goes back, in part to the previous point. Also, that’s a lot of pressure to put on a kid. Sports at this age should be about fun. Focus on the fun and if they have the drive and the talent, they’ll tell you. Then you can step in and push. Let your kid make the decisions. It’s good practice for them. Also, the odds of any kid turning a house league sport into a full time career is about the same as winning the lottery. Ok, maybe it’s slightly better, but rather than put that expectation on your kid, go buy a lottery ticket. Please.
I can give you endless reasons why sports are a thorn in my side, but at the end of the day the benefits far outweigh the inconvenience.
And, as I’m told, there will come a day where they won’t want me in the rink with them every weekend. And we all know that I will be very sad when that day comes.
See you at the rink.