Most of the memories I hold of my childhood reside with me on a sheet of ice. I am no different than any other player; I love hockey more than most things in my life. However I think about it a lot, there are a lot of challenges that come with trying to simply play it. It is not easy to cough up the cash to play the game as well as handling the often grueling scheduling.
It was just the other day that I was driving out to my beer-league team’s fourth 11pm game in 2 months. All I could think about on the way to the game was how I am going to be dead-tired for work tomorrow.
“Why do I put myself through this” I thought out loud as I listened to some Berlin Techno to pump myself up.
When you really look at hockey you have to be amazed at how many people find a way to play it. And I cannot help but to ask why we do it.
For starters the game is anything but cheap. Even in its most popular of locations the equipment alone can hit your wallet pretty hard. That is not even including regular maintenance/sharpening and possible accessories like hockey tape and wax. It is a huge reason why many hockey players stop playing throughout the years. Check out my article on saving money playing hockey.
And even when you’re fully equipped with your armor and arsenal you have to pay even more to play the game. Whether its open hockey, a beer league with friends or signing up for travel teams and high school clubs. It is not pretty when it comes to your expenses and they are only getting worse.
What is worse than the price you pay to play? For sure it is the actual time slots and travel.
As youth players we often find ourselves getting up well before the sun. In grade-school we did not get to bed until midnight or later. And now as an adult we are left with the scrappy time slots that no one else wants. When I was part of more competitive leagues/teams I of course had to deal with a lot more driving where pretty much every week there was a game two or more hours away. I can only imagine for the players who have to leave their family and home.
It is a dilemma I am pretty sure all us hockey players deal with.
I remember also being quite annoying of a child. My parents are sure to remind me as well of how much they had to force me to get to the rink. I remember some pretty old memories of me complaining about one thing or the other. Most of the time it was the fact that I had to wake up at dawn on a brutally cold morning or that my equipment was bothering me or something. There was always something.
“My skates are too tight, my feet are burning!”
“My shin pad feels funny, shift them… no shift them the other way…”
“How come everyone else has a new stick?”
“I have a headache… I do not feel well… I do not want to go…”
However with all of these seemingly hurdles that you have to get over I can honestly say there is simply nothing like it. All of those conflicts, the hardships, the prices you pay to play all go away. You hop on the ice and let your steel carve the ice and let the wind hit your face and it lets you be yourself. Hockey has always been a method of therapy for me and for this I thank the people who have helped me play it for so long. My parents specifically sacrificed a lot of time and money to simply play a game. Yet they were smart because they knew back then what we all know today, hockey is way more than just a child’s game. It’s a way of life.
So for all of you who may face the question or whether to play or not, just remember how much value it brings to simply step on the ice. I know for me my dream is to still score goals and CELLY hard well into my 70s playing against the best around.
Cheers to all of you who continue to play the beautiful game we love!
Releasing my inner Messier in what appears to be 1996
- Mark Lisica
4th Line Hockey