Legendary Edina coach and USA Hockey national coach-in-chief Bob O’Connor once said: “To win the game is great, to play the game is greater, to love the game is greatest of all.”
At a time of year when winning is placed in a greater limelight, this quote is a great reminder for everyone about what youth hockey is all about. The importance of wins and losses quickly fades as time passes, but the memories of playing and loving the game grow fonder as the years go by.
This year we encourage everyone from the youngest player to the most experienced coach to the most passionate parent to make honoring the game a focus during this year’s playoff push.
The Positive Coaching Alliance developed the acronym ROOTS to help outline what it means to honor the game as players, parents, coaches and leaders in youth sports.
The rules of hockey have been developed for a reason. Rules keep the game fair, and they also keep athletes safe. There are occasionally opportunities to circumvent or bend the rules to help your team win, but honoring the game means respecting both the letter and the spirit of the rules in place.
One of the best components of playoffs is the ever-increasing quality of opponents. Great opponents challenge us to be our best, and when two evenly matched teams compete with high level of intensity and respect for each other, the game is at its best. PCA founder Jim Thompson suggests in his book, “fierce and friendly” opponents are what we should strive to be and have in competition.
Officials are doing the best they can to enforce the rules and maintain a safe environment for play. They are people too, doing the best they can. They may make mistakes, and there may be disagreement. However, there’s no place for disrespecting officials in our game.
Make your teammates proud by doing the best you can (on and off the field) and by supporting them in all their efforts. Behave in a way to make your teammates, family and community proud.
Finally, and most importantly, you have to respect yourself in order to uphold an honorable approach to sports. Set high standards and live up to them.
By respecting the ROOTS of hockey, we can set the stage for a fun playoff run while ensuring we honor the game. For additional ideas on how to honor the game, check out this article or the video below regarding Minnesota Hockey’s Honor the Game Tournament earlier this season.