I guess for parents this lesson should be called enjoy the game in spite of the politics. There are politics in everything we do as we get older. Hockey is another great way to show our kids how to deal with them before they move into adulthood. I've heard many people say that hockey is so political but I think if you asked a dance mom, soccer dad or parents of kids trying to get the lead role in the school play, they'd all agree that somehow they felt politics were involved.
I loved the advice that hockey mom Cari Monteith (Kamloops) gave her son when she said, "I told him years ago that you will need to make it on your own; I will never pretend to be friends with someone just to get you ahead. That's something that you're going to have to do on your own and sometimes that won't always work, that's politics. As you become an adult, politics play a role in life and you have to deal with it, rise above it and keep working hard and push through." I think I needed Cari to parent me through some of my hockey moments.
As adults we seem to recognize politics long before our kids do and thank goodness for that. Usually by the time our kids are enrolled in hockey we've had our own experiences when politics have played a role in our lives. It's happened either at work, with family or in sports. As adults we are extremely sensitive to politics and as parents we fiercely want to protect our kids from them. We have to remember that we can't always assume that politics are the issue; sometimes parents will say a decision was political because it didn't go in their child's favour. We don't want to raise kids that will blame the system; we want to raise kids that will thrive regardless of the system.
As I mention in the book, this was a lesson I struggled with. This is what I wrote about politics, and excerpt from Lesson Eight (8), "As you navigate your way through this hockey experience, you will soon learn that there are decisions being made for your child that you have no control over, so let them go. Always bring your children back to the purity of the sport. Teach them to play through the politics.....play in spite of the them and the rest will fall into place."
I will always believe in advocating for your kids, as parents, that's what we are supposed to do. There were a few times that we needed to have conversations with coaches to clarify situations and there were many times we weren't happy with the outcome of those moments. I always had to remind myself during those conversations that they goal wasn't to shift the situation in our favor; it was to understand the situation better so my son could thrive.
My husband reminded me many times that Brock should only have to worry about how he played on the ice. I'd have to reign in the conversations in the car after games or around our kitchen table so the subject matter didn't consist of who we were mad at and who we felt was being unfair. As Brock mentioned in the video, that kind of talk will trickle down to the dressing room and will wreak havoc on a team.
I think he said it best when he said, "When it comes to politics, the hockey player needs to remember to just play through it. The hockey world should be evaluated on what you do on the ice and how good of a person you are off it. Make sure you do everything on the ice, you work hard, play your best and I think that is where the evaluation is going to come into play."
- Written by Allyson Tufts