Minnesota Hockey Magazine

I’m Not That Kind of Parent – Part I

VJ Stanley

VJ Stanley

And then it happened.

The following is an excerpt from a conversation with a hockey parent. As always the sport really does not matter. If it is really true, it applies to all things, including non sport related activities.

I was talking with a father of a travel hockey player. After playing just one year at his high school the father and son ( and there is a whole other blog on just that subject coming) decided to forgo the rest of his high school career with his friends, and go off and play ‘elite” travel hockey, in search of the dream.

Now let me say that the H.S. coach, an ex professional hockey player must have had mixed feelings about his players leaving his team and going off to play travel hockey. On one hand, He left home early to pursue a career to play professional hockey, but on the other hand, he knows how hard it is, and how much luck is involved in trying to get to the top level, and how fleeting that career can be.

The dad told me that he and his son “just got cut” from a Junior program. When I said to him, “what is the “we” here mean?” he responded with: “As long as I am paying the bills it is we.” I said: “I’m sure your son is aware of that.”

He then explained to me how much money he had spent on his son’s amateur hockey career and the ever present line I hear almost every day: “Have you heard of this coach?” (INSERT ANY NAME COACH or any program named after him IN ANY PAY FOR PLAY “ELITE” SPORT HERE)My son made his team, but we decided we weren’t going to have him play that far from home, and besides it was too much money. They wanted my son so much they offered us a 25% discount, to change our mind. So, obviously, if he made that team, he should be good enough to make this junior team.”

I’m not really sure how the parent makes this connection. One team, one organization, can have different goals, different criteria for their players, than another team or organization. Some have trouble filling spots each year so they change who they get to play, how good their team will be, and how much they charge. It is a business. But ALL want you to pay to play. The reality is that they need players to keep the “machine “purring and the cash rolling in. Simple math tells you that there are only so many scholarships, 1% of all the kids who go to a four year college play DI hockey, and only half of them play for free. Each team has only 18 scholarships or points. There are only 700 jobs in the WORLD in the N.H.L. So to say the odds are miniscule, or even lottery like, for your child to get anything close to a return on your investment, is quite accurate.

So I asked him what happened at the tryout for this last team. He said: “When we got there, there were only a couple of spots open for this team. The coach, (Again INSERT NAME OF ANY WELL KNOWN COACH or organization) wanted to keep his core players together so he could win. The kids had played together and knew his system and each other. (Unless a stud showed up in which case he would have made the team in an instant) My son didn’t really get a fair shake. He was obviously better than some of the kids the coach kept. That’s not just my opinion; another dad there said he thought my son was better than some of the kids the coach kept.” (NOTE: this other dad’s kid got cut also. Misery loves company.)

Then he said “One kid, decided not to play so they called back kids to tryout one more time.”My son had another great tryout, but the coach had already decided who the kid was going to be, to make the team, before the tryout even started. My kid got screwed again.”

I said “You know we are talking about the final roster spots. Coaches know who the best players are and they don’t have this problem picking them when a team is formed. They are the ones getting the scholarships.” He said: “My son is not a college type kid. The Junior route is the route for us.”

“Us” I Said, what is the us?” He said: “My son wants to take this as far as it will take him and he has my total support. I’ve paid this much so far, and I’ll do whatever it takes to help him reach his dream.” (Now again, whose dream is this?)

What, really? “Your son did not make even a this local Junior program, that was going to cost you $5.000 plus, and you are saying he can’t even make this team and he is going to “go as far as it will take him?”

It already has. Time for house league.

“Did you ask him about this?” he pulled his phone out and said let’s call him right now.” Well, it takes a little while before a kid trusts us when we talk to him to tell the truth. First he may be so conditioned by everything and everyone around him that he does not even realize what is happening and how it is affecting him. Also, he may afraid of the consequences. Parents, friends, coaches, and other kids swept up in the TSUNAMI and have become preconditioned to accept this life style in the hope of the nonexistent full ride scholarship.

“WE DON’T WANT TO FALL BEHIND!”

Then it happened. I heard the mantra, the pre scripted response that I hear over and over, and one of the main reasons Frozen Shorts was created and we work at changing this youth sports paradigm every day. “I am not that kind of parent. If my son wants to quit today he can and it won’t bother me a bit.”

Frozen Short’s contact information:

You can follow VJ on twitter @VJJStanley, go to his website frozenshorts.com to read other blogs and see video interviews of Doctors, Athletes, coaches, and more. You can follow him on face book, or contact him at vj@frozenshorts.com. His book:Stop the Tsunami in Youth Sportsis available in E-Reader and paperback through his website frozenshorts.com