Justin and I at The Hockey Card Show have never shied away from expressing our opinions while sitting on the couch and having a few - whether it’s about players, coaches, the media, or the game itself. I know all fans have an opinion and rightfully so. With this week’s events about to unfold I thought I would start with some preliminary thoughts.
When you think about kids playing hockey, you can help but smile. I know I can’t anyway. Often times when I think of playing as a kid whether it was organized or just on the ponds and driveway it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Perhaps the greatest thing about hockey is your first discovery of the game. The first game you watch (live or on TV), the first time you get your dad to tie up your skates, or the first time you go out and rattle a few balls of the garage door.
As a parent I am seeing this is my son over the last 6 months or so. My oldest boy who is 8 doesn’t seem to have an interest in the game and I am alright with that as well. My youngest boy’s passion is growing. He is 6 and some would say he is behind. As a great lover of the game I have never pushed them to play just because I played. He played organized ball hockey at the age of 4, and while it was comical (he was the youngest kid and smallest little guy who just ran over to the glass to wave to me), he didn’t seem keen on playing again. Now, with playing with his friends at school, and watching Daddy talk hockey on The Hockey Card Show (another shameless plug) he is very keen. We will shoot balls in the net on the driveway (well I shoot them in the net, he shoots them off the garage doors and my legs), and then he will ask me for once again another pack of hockey cards to add to his ever growing collection. Watching as his passion for the game grows, and seeing him feel the way I did as a kid is an amazing thing. He is already asking if maybe he could play hockey again. I told him that he can do whatever he wants. Isn’t this what every parent should say? Even with ever growing costs associated with the game (even at a young age) it is my opinion that every parent should be able to say this. Every kid should have the opportunity to play this great game.
This is a problem for a lot of families…MONEY. While I don’t foresee it being a problem with our family (yet) as we are a double income household, while there are single income families, or lower double income families struggling to make ends meet everyday. Having a child play hockey may not be an option, or at least at a high level. What if the child has talent? What if he is asked to play rep. hockey? The costs associated with this opportunity are at times, staggering! That is a sad reality that can wipe that smile off yours and your child’s face real quick. When did the mighty dollar become more important than the game? I understand the growing costs of everything that we could breakdown to a very skate lace, and the tough economic times we are in, but still!
Is soccer the way of the future in
While hockey registration may be up in some other countries, is it somewhat stagnant here at home? I wouldn’t say it is something that should have everyone worried, but still something that should be looked at. Soccer on the other hand seems to be growing in popularity among the youths here in
As you may know 2 of the topics at the
A friend of mine who lives in a small town in
My friend has told me that to him it seems like soccer has almost become the social thing to do for your kids, which back when him and I were kids it was hockey. Both of my boys have played soccer in the summer and where I reside in
Here are some statistics he has presented me from his town. Population 22,000, his son’s hockey age group (novice) was which consists of 7 & 8 year old had 1 rep. hockey team and 4 house league teams. Their local soccer for the same age group had 1 rep. team & 14 house league teams. This is the same group of kids! Obviously, many of them are not playing hockey! He and I, and many others agree…it is the cost associated with the game.
Another friend here in
Whereas if his son played decided to not play rep. and the OHA lost another talented kid, he would save a bundle. High school hockey, $150 sign up fee and $35 extra a tournament with the cost of one away tournament. Now obviously there is a difference in games played and caliber of hockey but you see the numbers.
Perhaps what they say is true - money IS the root of all evil. I could touch on other things related to money, like the cost of taking your family to an actual pro game. Which we all know is ridiculous, but I will save that for a later time. Besides, hockey at the pro level is a business, and I understand that so I will try to stay on topic.
So, as far as the kids go what is the answer? Who knows really…it will be interesting to see what the powers of the hockey world have to say at the upcoming World Hockey Summit. Will they touch on this at all? Will they only focus on safe practices? Will they talk about the assistance programs in place to subsidize the costs for a child to play and the public awareness that they are there? Will they only focus on getting proper fundamental teaching programs in place? Will they only focus on the coaching? All of these are great issues and should be looked at too, but I think the money factor can’t be overlooked. It was a problem when I was young where you knew some kids weren’t playing hockey because they couldn’t afford it. It seems as though it has escalated over the years as the costs have ballooned.
Oh so many questions before it all begins, and hopefully soon some answers, or at least a direct approach or direction in the years to come for our great game. I thank Molson for allowing Justin and I the opportunity to be part of something so special and important for the game. I look forward to hearing first hand some of the hockey elite's thoughts and opinions as this is a topic that is an everyday reality for many families. We need to keep the smiles on those little ones faces. Hockey should always do that!
The Hockey Card Show