Tom Renney, Hockey Canada’s chief executive officer and president, recently came out and said that he felt professional sports are very different from youth sports, and that focusing on becoming like the pros can send harmful messages to young players.
Basically, what he was getting at is that professional sports are entertaining and even inspiring for young players, but they should not set their sights just on one day becoming professional athletes themselves. While it’s fine if they want to do that, their main focus as young players should be on having fun and learning the basic skills of the game.
Renney also expressed disdain for youth sports that try too hard to be like pro sports and to gear their training programs toward professional sports. He feels that, instead, coaches and other leaders should focus on simply instilling important values, like good sportsmanship and respect, and basic skills to players.
The value of playing youth Hockey, Renney asserts, isn’t in winning or in reaching some lofty goal in the future. It’s in having fun, enjoying themselves, learning from their teammates, and just having a great experience in general.
What we can take away from Renney’s words is that being a professional athlete, especially a professional hockey player, isn’t easy, and it’s not something that’s likely to happen for most young people who pick up a stick and go out on the ice. However, all these young players will one day become adults, and with the help of a hockey program that’s focused on fun and values, not on becoming pros, they’ll have what it takes to become great people, which is always more important than being great players.