Kids’ Sports ‘Shouldn’t Imitate the Pros’: Hockey Canada CEO
Posted by Dean Holden at July 6th, 2015
by Michael Hayakawa, 22 June 2015
Head hockey honcho – Hockey Canada’s Tom Renney speaks to the OMHA’s annual meeting.
Tom Renney has nothing against professional sports.
After all, the 60-year-old Cranbrook, B.C. native was a National Hockey League head coach in Edmonton, Vancouver and New York.
Now Hockey Canada’s chief executive officer and president, Renney feels professional sports fails to deliver an important message to those playing the game at the grassroots level.
It’s one in which administrators of minor sport organizations along with coaches and parents should take into strong consideration.
While professional sports offer a form of entertainment and can serve as an inspiration to youngsters aspiring to reach that level, there are other far more important lessons they should be taught while acquiring and developing the rudiments of their sports.
“I believe sport today too often imitates the pros with a misjudged view that such imitation is good,” Renney said while addressing the Ontario Minor Hockey Association’s annual general meeting in Richmond Hill this month.
What would serve as a more appropriate learning tool, he suggested, is for administrators from youth organizations and coaches representing those teams to place an emphasis on teaching youngsters the proper values on and away from the field of play.
“Real minor sports should continue to focus on teaching our children respect, ethics, honour, teamwork, playing within the rules, the value of relationships, and learning how to win and lose.
“Professional sport doesn’t teach values, it reveals them,” he said.
Renney cited several examples of how “real sport” should be conveyed to youngsters, coaches and administrators.
“Real sport is five kids piling in to a car, driving to practice, talking about the day and looking forward to sweating,” he said. Real sport is a bunch of kids playing road hockey or pickup baseball, and missing dinner because they got so engaged in the game. Real sport doesn’t require 13-year-olds to wear ties at games, be at the rink 90 minutes before a game, miss school for practice, sit around on expensive ice straining to hear a coach talking about something, or counting face-offs.”
“Real sport is please and thank you. Real sport is when your son or daughter loves the sport so much they will do the dishes, and cut the lawn so you get some time to yourself before driving them to their activity. Real sport is fast hard practices, with game like drills that leave you spent after 45 minutes. Real sport is hockey, but it is also swimming, wrestling, badminton, tennis, golf, and soccer … sport you can play for decades. Real sport keeps kids playing, and whether they ever reach a podium, or win a Stanley Cup, keeping individuals participating longer is part of the biggest victory … the victory of making a positive difference in someone’s life and our community. This is what is virtuous about sport,” he said during his speech.
Knowing not every youngster playing minor hockey will make it to the NHL, Renney feels through minor sports, administrators and coaches can be a positive influence on youngsters through their teachings to assist them into becoming better individuals once they reach adulthood.
“We won’t all be lucky enough to play in the NHL, or Olympics, but we can make a very positive difference by ensuring that the lessons of sport are cement in our behavior.
“When we learn these lessons, we will also perform better in school, business, and life,” he said