I wanted to represent some of the responses that have come across the Mlive forum since the last round of the travel debate has raged on.
Some were succinct: “This *is* travel hockey after all.” And others were a little more involved. Here’s a couple straight from the mlive forums:
89704.4.2. Thats makes as much sense
by PhilDCooler, 8/5/08 9:02 ET
. . . I understand that it is travel hockey but in the strict sense of the word but so are the house leagues now. There are very few true house programs any more. Almost everyone travels.
Travel hockey does not need to mean that I have to drive my son to Grand Rapids for a league game. I understand that those on the west side want to play in the league [snip] . . . but there needs to be a separate division. [snip] . . . we’ll see them in the playoffs.
And another response:
89704.5.1.1. No perfect system….
by killjoi, 8/5/08 9:12 ET
. . . Maybe one solution is to limit one outstate team to each division to limit the trips, but again one could argue how is that fair if a west side team has to come over to the Metro area two or more times per month. [snip] . . . . the bottom line is enter the league, pick your preference (competitive or geographic)and then accept the results. There is no doubt that there will be unhappy people, but this isn’t and will never be 100% perfect for 100% of the teams.
And finally a response that surprised even this blogger. This was posted on the Mlive youth forums on August 6, 2008. I would not call this representative of other’s views toward the LCAHL (Little Caesars Amateur Hockey League).
89773. Thing is the…..
by BigArn2, 8/6/08 9:17 ET
SE Michigan teams don’t NEED to drive great distances to get games with good competitive teams. [snip] . . . The need of the out state teams in not the problem of the SE Michigan teams. It isn’t the SE Michigan teams’ responsibility to play games with the out state teams or to travel to their locations for games. The “that isn’t fair to those teams” arguement is stupid. It is the SE Michigan teams responsibility to set up games so that they have the best competition for their teams [snip] . . . If we decide to travel to GR, TC, Kazoo, Midland, Bay City, Saginaw to play fine, we’ve made that decision as a team. We shouldn’t be forced to travel to those locations, any more than they should be forced to travel here. The problem is that LCAHL has forgotten that they exist at our pleasure. They have adopted the mentality that they are the be all and end all for youth hockey, they aren’t. Heck we don’t need a league to play in, we can schedule scrimmages games all year. Our team is a member of an association that gets to send a representative to districts. That is more important than the LCAHL.
We are all entitled to our own opinions for sure, but my feeling is that the LCAHL has done a tremendous job in promoting youth hockey in Michigan using *volunteers* to get that job done. Suggesting that “youth hockey” turn their back on this league is a mistake that could be very costly to the state of youth hockey in Michigan.
I would also state that the vast majority of youth hockey players that I have coached, managed and spoken to would much rather play in a league where their perception is that the games “mean” something rather than being an independent team playing nothing but scrimmage games.
Finally, as is mentioned in this response – we all have choices – who to play for, who to play with, what team to play on , what association to be a part of, what league we play in, what level to play, and how far we want to travel. We should all simply exercise our option to choose and this argument is dead in the water.
An idea that hasn’t received a bunch of airplay on the mlive forums is the concept of showcase weekends.
Other leagues are doing this to alleviate some travel concerns – albeit farther than any LCAHL team is traveling – how about a Grand Rapids area team having to go to Nashville for 2 league games? Yikes! But hey, Nashville is a cool city.
Could kill many birds with one stone with the showcase approach. At the Bantam and Midget levels – could use it as an opportunity to bring in some junior and college scouts. At the other levels – the league could send some representatives to assess the level of play – competitiveness of the games etc. Not to mention the obvious advantage of playing 4 to 5 league games over the course of a weekend. If setup properly, in a division with 11 teams (20 league games total) you could satisfy the 10 home games with a couple of weekend showcase events.
The co-op option
Another option to address these concerns is to actually work together to come up with some solutions. I’ve done this in the past – working with other local teams to coordinate ice times and dates to allow a couple of teams to make the trip and get 4 games out of the weekend. It’s good hockey, it’s making the most out of the trip and it builds good working relationships between teams.
The argument to many of these comes from the viewpoint of the coach not wanting to pack that many league games into one weekend. I can understand that viewpoint – injuries, conflicting schedules etc could have a significant impact on a weekend full of league games. But the bottom line is there is not perfect system and you either manage the travel or come up with a solution that limits travel without limiting the league.
The original statement was made:
“I believe that is 1/2 the reason the sport of hockey is on the decline.”
I’m assuming that this statement was specifically about the decline within the state of Michigan. If this is truly the case – that the “excessive” travel is causing a decline in the number of participants in youth hockey – what do you think it would do if there were suddenly geographic boundaries for the LCAHL? So in other words, no team outside of said boundary can participate unless they are willing to have all their home games schedule within the boundaries. I’m guessing that would have a fairly negative impact on the number of participants as well.
There is a common ground here. We all just have to work to find it and not let the zealots at either end of the argument rule the day.
See you at the rink.