Mission Statement: Put forth maximum effort and show the game some respect
I was a history major in school and naturally look back to events that shape current events and why things are the way they are.
I have seen a shift in how parents view and look at youth hockey. They are taking on a more of a critical thinking mode, in the form of how they talk about youth hockey, opinions, and the overall approach to sports in general.
I remember the days where professional sports were just reported on – scores, highlights and possibly some postgame interviews. Just the news. It was reported as was and very much a matter of fact.
My mind takes me to a breakthrough talk show and approach called the Jim Rome Show, hosted by the show’s namesake. His approach was very controversial. He would call out players for poor performances, make personal attacks on players’ character, and would always bring up money and salary justification for performance. His show hit its height when he and an NFL quarterback named Jim Everett, who he referred to as “Chris,” nearly came to blows, and it was at that point, I believe, TV executives saw a potentially new way to spice up sports broadcasts and audience excitement.
We are now entrenched in a society of debate shows, where pro athletes are subjected to daily opinions about performance, character and scrutiny. It is the norm and what our generation has now taken on.
So I move this back to youth sports.
This critical thinking approach has now oozed into our sport, and I see more and more the absence and understanding that these kids are not professional athletes and therefore, cannot be held to same performance standards of pros. They have different skill sets, motivations, mental thresholds and expectations.
Parents and adults think in logical and natural progression, where kids, by their very nature, bring complete unpredictability. The one thing I have seen constant in all my years is that kids are consistently inconsistent.
For example, a team that goes out and competes against a higher-level team and excels is naturally expected to handle a less skilled team with some sense that if they play the same way, they will dominate this team. This makes sense to adults and coaches logically, but kids might overlook a team, which is commonplace in youth sports. A consistent team is a thing of beauty at the youth level, and also a rarity.
Here’s my point.
I am asking parents to take a step back and certainly not accept lazy or inconsistent efforts, as we as coaches are all striving for the same thing, the elusive consistent player. I am asking them to change their lens and take less of a “Skip vs. Shannon” approach to youth sports, but rather more on the lines in the reality that this type of analysis doesn’t apply or cross over to our youth players.
Society is changing in many ways on how news is reported, and how communication is translated. I am really hoping we can at least preserve the pure principles of youth hockey where failure is OK, as long as the effort to change or improve is evident while suffering that setback.
I am personally doing all I can in my organization to eliminate this type of scrutiny and unrealistic view of what sports really can and should represent to our young men and women. I hope folks will wake up and realize that the effort, respect and lessons are what needs to be most prominent.
Jeremy Goltz is the program director for Mission Arizona.