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June 21st, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 25
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It's just a sport
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Maybe I’m old, or maybe I just realized my kids aren’t going the Olympics, but I think sports should be fun for kids. Otherwise, why do it?
When I had my first child, I pushed him in everything he did sports wise. I wanted him to be the best swimmer, the best hockey player, the best at everything he did. What I didn’t realize is that I, myself, made him hate the sports I wanted him to love.

Keiran quit swimming because the coach, as well as myself, put so much pressure on him to win that ultimately, he began to hate it. I’m embarrassed to say that I was ‘that’ coach that made his experience so crappy that he quit. As a coach, I pushed him to win. I pushed him to do races he didn’t want to do and ultimately, I pushed him into hating swimming. One time, I forced him to swim a 100-metre butterfly race and he ended up having to quit halfway through. I forced him into that, and I had to take responsibility for my actions and what it did to him. I embarrassed him, I put him in a situation he didn’t want to be in nor could handle mentally, and all because I thought it was the right thing to do. It was a good lesson for me to learn as a coach and parent. Unfortunately, I did so at his expense.

It’s only when I gave up and saw the error of my way that Keiran ended up loving the sports he chose to participate in. So from that experience, I promised myself that my number one priority would be to make sure my kids have fun, practice hard, respect their coaches and give their all, but I couldn’t care less if they won or lost. I want them to enjoy what they are doing and end the game or race with a smile on their faces.
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This brings me to my next issue: what do you do if your child loves a sport, but the people running it make it impossible to have fun, much like I did to Keiran? Do you advocate for your child or just let it go? I’ve watched parents push their kids until they cry at hockey games. I’ve watched kids sit on the bench during ‘important games’ because they weren’t good enough to be on the power line. I guess if it was tiered hockey and you tried out for a team and made it, that situation is applicable. I guess if you joined winter swim club or soccer and decided to pursue your dreams of making the Olympics, that’s applicable. But if you chose house hockey or summer recreational sports, shouldn’t the kids be doing it to have fun? Maybe I’m living in an alternate universe, but forcing kids to do things they don’t want to do doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me, all in the name of someone’s opinion of development. Maybe that person just wants to be the best goalie they can be, so why force them into being a defenseman or forward? Maybe someone wants to be the best downhill skier they can, so why force them into slalom racing?
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Last season, Aiden quit hockey. It broke my heart. He quit for the simple reason that he didn’t enjoy it anymore, and you know what? We as parents conceded to his wish. Did I still want him to play? You bet. But he was done and we respected his choice. Just to be clear, it had nothing to do with anything done to him in minor hockey. In fact, he loved his coaches; he just didn’t want to play anymore.

Why can’t we just let kids have fun? I now advocate for fun. Out of all my kids, Quinn, my youngest, has the most talent sports wise and guess what... I don’t push him! He wins on his own because he wants to and because he’s having fun, and you know what? He’s probably one of the best athletes in town. Why? Because he’s enjoying what he’s doing! To anyone making a kid feel different, shame on you! I have felt that shame and it’s not nice.

At least that’s the way I see it.
 
LS
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June 21st, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 25
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