January 29, 2015

How Society Is Changing Hockey

I've always hated the way we are increasingly coddling our youth these days. I think it will be really interesting to see the societal impact of such hair brained ideas as not allowing kids to fail a grade at school. We'll just push him or her through, no matter how ill prepared they are. Oh and those kids who excel, well we won't acknowledge that. We don't want others to feel inferior, so every kid is treated the same.

In the real world things don't work that way. We are raising a generation of kids who don't have to work as hard and, far more importantly, don't have any reason to strive to be the best they can be. The societal impact will be a negative one. But hey, at least no one's feelings were hurt.

We are starting to see those impacts now. And interestingly, Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star has come out with an article highlighting the impact of this in the hockey world:

Joe Nieuwendyk noticed a change in the way players wanted to interact with coaches around the end of his career. Ditto for Gord Dineen. Ditto for Mark Hunter.

Ask any player from the 1980s or 1990s about today's player and you get the same kind of answer: Today's player is coddled.

Later in the article sports psychologist Paul Dennis says there is built in sense of entitlement with today's youth:

"Since these kids began playing hockey, they've been receiving so much praise not only from parents but from coaches from agents, they get pretty comfortable with this praise and in some cases it gives them an over-inflated sense of self-confidence and self-esteem," says Dennis.

"Because of that, they have a lot of difficulty hearing anything other than praise. So, they're difficult athletes to coach." Where did this come from? Let's start with the end-of-season team banquets.

"Every young athlete gets a trophy just for showing up," says Dennis. "That way they're special. The intentions were good. But we stopped praising effort and persistence.

"We've created this monster because we want (kids) to feel special. And it has filtered all the way up to the NHL. But it is in all forms of human endeavour. Not just sport."

And it is not on this generation to wake up and smell the coffee. They aren't likely to change. The impetus is on us old fogies - be it the old guard coach in hockey or us veterans in our various workplaces - have to learn how communicate and lead them. How can we still get the best out of them? How can we get them to strive for more?


Pete said...

Interesting to see the thought at the bottom of the article. I am part of the old guard, have kids of my own and those who I coach as well. I teach all of them that falling down is a good thing - it's how we learn to do something we didn't think we could do. Not so sure I think it's a one-sided change that is necessary - kids need to learn to fail, and parents need to learn that it's ok for their kids to fail as well as part of their learning. Good teachers, coaches and managers will see this and learn how to draw out the best!

Dan said...

I am a senior studying to become a teacher and I can tell you that we are being taught to actively push gifted and talented students the way we should every other student (which certainly wasn't in place when I was in grade school). Unequal but fair.

On trophies for all, that is a positive in creating a healthier society. It allows even the children who do not excel to develop a life long love of sport which leads to a healthier adult lifestyle. Though I do agree coaches still have to be critical (but not negative) of their charges in order to foster improvement; which is something I see lacking in some of my fellow coaches repertoires.