Ultra stereotype, but this weekend was spent entirely dedicated to a hockey tournament for my eldest daughter. From Friday at 8am until Sunday at 3:30pm, she played 6 games. I’m one of the coaches, making the stress levels a tad bit higher than when in the stands. Throw in a family party for 6 hours, and it was an exhausting weekend. The great news is that they wont the tourney, took home some hardware, and a pretty large banner. I am extremely proud of what those girls accomplished. Was an amazing feeling to share that event with them, the other coaches, and the parents.
I am extremely biased towards hockey. I spent the most of my youth winters either playing or being in a rink watching others play. Ball hockey started on the street once the snow melted. It is a stupidly expensive game, and requires subsidization for those that could get the most benefit from it.
Team sports in general provide tremendous benefits, in particular ones that can be played from childhood until you retire (or beyond). Generally, team sports focus on bonding since it really isn’t possible to win all by oneself. There may be dominant players, but they are not always actively playing. It builds interpersonal skills, tolerance for others, the ability to work together to solve a problem, and just basic chemistry between people.
It provides a framework for a work ethic, in that you get out what you put in. Practice and effort can provide tremendous output. The main message is that continual improvement is an overall goal. Even the best players/teams continue to practice. In specific cases, that you can succeed even if you make mistakes. That you can lose if you make none. That the outcome of a game, or a tournament is not the outcome of a season. It build personal confidence in one’s abilities. Personal experience and subjective anecdote – people who stop team sports, will stop for this particular reason above all others.
It provides an environment to have fun while doing something strenuous. As hard as the game can be, or the moment-to-moment action, you should be able to enjoy it before, during, and after. There’s a reason they call it a game. It provides a focused environment where the rest of your life doesn’t matter, only the game. Being able to see through all that and still have a smile.
It includes fair play. Nobody cares what you look like, what you dress like, who your parents are, where you live. All hockey players are judged on their ability to play hockey. It isn’t about injuring the opponent, it’s a test of skill. It isn’t about dominating a weaker team. When the game is over, you shake hands. As an adult, you may end up at the pub with them later on.
These values permeate through team sport into nearly every other aspect of life. School, work, personal growth, relationships…I still meet people on a regular basis that I’ve connected with prior through sport. It isn’t to say that all hockey players are like this, or that this particular skill set is only found in team sports. At the larger trend level, you’ll simply find more of this in team sports, otherwise the sport itself wouldn’t work. And for the best coaches, success isn’t measured in the game, it’s measured in the growth of the players.
I love this game.