As in jumping teams prior to signing a roster or in some cases after a roster has been signed. This is one of the biggest opportunities within youth hockey today in my opinion. We have too many instances where a verbal commitment is made and then a change of heart comes along and the jumping begins. This is something that absolutely needs to be addressed – whether that be locally within districts, state wide via MAHA or across the country through USA Hockey.
There are two sides to this of course – the coaches side and the players side. Each side contributes to perpetuating the actions on the other side. When a coach decides to bring in another “better” player after selections are made and cuts a player who was already offered a spot on the team, a ripple effect takes place as that player now begins looking for another place to play. The opposite is true as well, when a player makes the choice to go to another team it sends the ripple effect the other way.
The problem I see here is that someone is initiating this sequence of events –whether it be a coach who is looking to fill out a roster or increase the skill level within his team or a player who is becomes dissatisfied with his team selection over the summer – maybe during pre season skates or maybe through conversations with other players. Regardless of where it starts, it needs to stop.
I responded to a message on the mlive forums regarding this topic – my response is below:
All things being equal off the ice, the only reason for a coach to go back on a commitment to a kid is because he is focused on wins and losses. That is not what youth hockey or youth sports is all about. You held your tryouts, you selected your team – if you knew you had some “projects” on the team then step up to the challenge and teach them.
As a kid, there are many reasons to switch teams some of which don’t have anything to do with wins and losses – more friends on the other team etc. However, it is still not acceptable once you have made a commitment to a team.
There should be a personal commitment, supported by integrity that would prevent this from happening. But reality has proven otherwise. We need to ask ourselves what values we are instilling in these young athletes when we condone and perpetuate this type of behavior. What type of adult are we creating when honor and integrity are not priorities?
We have all seen the examples of this type of selfish approach in professional sports. The athlete who holds out for more money, when millions of dollars are already on the table in compensation for playing a game they supposedly love to play. The dissatisfied player who doesn’t play to his abilities or refuses to play because he is unhappy with management, the coaching staff, the team etc. Browse any forum on these topics and you’ll see the negative comments associated with this behavior. If that is the case, why do we condone this type of behavior from a child and why do we set this example for these children as a coach?
The answer is to lead by example through our actions and words to teach these athletes the importance of honoring your commitment.
See you at the rink.