In A Devilish Mood: What are the benefits to letting our kids play hockey?
Before I can even answer that question, I need to contemplate, “why not hockey?”
I would have to say that the two main reasons against letting your child play this wonderful sport are cost and the violent nature of the sport.
The costs of getting your child into hockey differ from region to region and the reasons for this are plenty but to keep it simple, hockey is played on a specialized surface and every time you want to work on your craft, you have to go to an ice rink and pay for that ice. The required equipment you need to play this sport can also have you contemplating taking out a second loan on your house.
Equipment prices have skyrocketed since I was a kid, but quality and durability have improved as well. That is great for us adults who don’t have to buy new skates every year or so because our feet are getting bigger. Personally, I purchased two of these new one-piece hockey sticks six years ago and am still using them. They are 100 flex and I am just flat-out not strong enough to break one. The bottom line is that with the costs of the ice, equipment, travel, league overhead, hockey is an expensive sport!
While there are debates as to which sport is more violent – hockey or football – let’s just concede that the risk of getting injured playing hockey is up there. This is, of course, due to the fact that hockey is a full-contact sport that involves the players skating at high speeds on an extremely hard surface enclosed on all sides by walls. It is like a giant cage match with completely different rules. I have been saying for years that as our athletes have only been getting bigger, faster, and stronger, the rink dimensions have not changed. This has changed the game at the higher levels of hockey and is not that big of a deal for our children. USA Hockey is doing its best at trying to make the game as safe as possible, too.
So then, why do we let our children play this sport?
I am not going to speak for every parent out there, I will just give you two of my many reasons.
1. Exercise. Another thing I have been saying for years is that our kids these days are growing up in the video game era. They do not want to go out and play anymore. Hockey is one of the best cardiovascular games you can play. In this sport, you alternate between exercise and rest and pushes them to their limits. Let’s face it – our kids don’t have the best diets and this form of interval training burns a ton of calories to help offset their food choices. Regularly playing hockey can develop a child’s gross motor skills and improve eye-hand coordination. It also requires strength, something that can benefit a child in whatever activity he or she pursues.
2. Character. Hockey is a team sport, and children who play learn the value of working with others. They figure out how to rely on teammates and understand that cooperation is key to success. These are valuable life lessons that children take with them into adulthood and help them with whatever career path they choose. Hockey also helps children learn how to deal with the ups and downs that they will inevitably face in their adult world. While talent is important, hockey, in my opinion, is the sport in which teamwork can outdo talent, more so than any other sport. Those lessons are invaluable and hard to put a price tag on.
Why hockey? Because hockey is the best life lesson-teaching sport on the planet, in my opinion.
Brad McCaughey is the hockey director and coach-in-chief for DYHA.
(March 14, 2019)