What Do Swimming and Hockey Have in Common?
By Rick Ropelewski
They are both sports where one can watch a family member participate while you are completely sedentary. Most of us have had some experience watching a family member or friend play some sport during elementary or high school. Some are quite enjoyable, while for others your only thought is “I’m never getting back that hour of my life.” Prompted by a recent conversation with a fellow parent about the joys and challenges of being a hockey parent, I thought I’d briefly ramble about my likes and pet peeves for some of the sports my kids have played. Full disclosure here: we have only experienced sports through the high school years, and neither of our children play any sport at an extremely high level of competition.
So in no particular order:
Hockey. Yes, there are early games and practices, but in the nine years my son has played I can count on one hand the number of 6:00 AM games he has had. Pet peeve – some of the rinks are brutally cold. Yes, I get it; they play on ice. But when you walk outside to 20 degree temperatures and you feel like you are warming up, that is cold. The positives – the games are genuinely fun to watch and your kid will be on the ice for usually about half of a 36 – 40 minute game.
Track & Field. Good news – no 6:00 AM games; bad news – all meets are conveniently in the middle of the workday at 3:30. Not having been exposed to this until middle school, the level of ability is relatively good. Pet peeve – if your child runs the 100 meter dash you get to watch them for 10-15 seconds of a 2 hour sporting event. That hockey game where they are on the ice is starting to look more appealing. Fortunately my daughter’s middle school coach emphasized personal growth and teamwork, and it was fun watching middle school kids still be goofy, innocent kids on the infield between events.
Baseball. Watching T-Ball or the first level of little league where the kids pitch can make you want to check your calendar to schedule a dentist appointment. In the early years there is not much action and the game moves along at a glacial pace. That being said, baseball is the sport with which we have the most longevity, and it has been fun to watch the kids’ abilities steadily improve over the seasons, so I’ll always have a sentimental spot for the sport.
Swimming. In my opinion this might be THE sport for masochistic parents. Same pet peeve as Track & Field: one swim meet for my daughter was 3 ½ hours and she was in the pool for a total of 90 seconds. You also have the added bonus of trying to find your child before they complete their event. I mean how hard can it be? They’re one of 50-100 kids wearing the same color bathing suit, the same color bathing cap, and they’re wearing goggles. You are sitting 25 – 50 yards away trying to determine if that is them and paranoid that you’ll miss their 90 seconds in the pool. Positive aspects – still working on it; I’ll get back to you.
All joking aside, the kids are developing self-confidence, learning the importance of teamwork, and having fun, so it’s all good. They just need to install treadmills so we fans could also get a little exercise.