I have a confession to make: while I pose the question in the headline of this post, I don’t actually have an answer for you. Sorry. Please don’t yell at me.
As a hockey coach with no kids of his own, I can’t possibly understand what it’s like to watch your son or daughter succeed, fail, pout, overcome and succeed again.
But I imagine it’s a rush of energy unlike any other you’ve felt in your life.
The relationship between coach and player is similar to that between parent and offspring, the major difference being the coach is primarily responsible for the well-being of the entire team as one individual unit while the parent only truly cares about their own child.
Most of the time, anyways.
So, with the understanding that this is coming from the perspective of a coach who’s been on the receiving end of aggressive text messages, threats to quit mid-game, offers of cash (just once), in addition to praise and claims of life-long adoration (maybe they were just looking for powerplay time - didn’t work), here are a few guesses as to why hockey parents get so involved in the hockey journeys of their children.
As parents, you’re intrinsically linked to your child from the time you hear their heart beat for the first time to their first goal. You feel their joy almost as keenly as you feel their pain.
And it’s gotta be tough to watch them grow up and share those ups and downs with their peers more often. Some parents can step back and allow their children the breathing room required to sort out their own issues, while some parents, who know their kids better than anyone, are compelled to help out.
I’m not saying either is right or wrong, but the emotional roller coaster that is hockey in Canada has two seats for a reason.
Money, time, energy - as the parent, you’re footing the bill for the entire experience, so it stands to reason you’d be invested emotionally as well.
It can be damn tough for some parents to sit in the stands and watch the scene unfold. This is why we volunteer our time to coach, manage and coordinate. It’s why we seek positions on executive boards - we want to help. First and foremost our own children, and after that, the organizations they’re growing up with.
If your son or daughter is obsessed with hockey, chances are it originates with mom and dad. Even if you didn’t play hockey at a high level or play at all, it’s tough not to get swept up in the maelstrom of minor hockey. It’s just like professional hockey, but you’ve got a tangible emotional investment.
Cheering a big win, cursing a tough loss, it’s all part of the package. If the team always wins and your child never faces adversity, while that’s not very interesting, is it?
Committing to the passion of the game for which we live and breathe is normal in this corner of the country, just like soccer is a national obsession in Brazil, England, or Mexico.
Ultimately, I think we get so involved because of a combination of all three elements. Hockey is a fun game to be part of, even when you think you’re not having fun.
What do you think?