Trouble in Paradise:


            This story is about a high school hockey team. They were playing a game against an inferior opponent, and they beat their opponent easily, 7-0. There were two plays that happened during this game that caught my eye. Both plays were a direct result of a lack of knowledge about how important humility and teamwork are to a successful program.


            The coach of this team is not a yeller. He has been coaching for a long time and truly understands the journey and how important it is to keep things in perspective. His teams do consistently well both on and off the ice.


            The first play I want to discuss was actually a culmination of a series of plays that resulted in a key player getting injured and removed from the game After scoring 5 goals in this game, the player scoring , was celebrating and playing to his friends in the crowd. The other team twice tried to hit him before they caught him with his head down and delivered a clean check that resulted in an injury.


            After the fourth goal I turned to the friend I was sitting next to and said this is how kids get hurt during a blowout and no one understands why. They point a finger at the opposing team and its players for dirty play without being held accountable for their role in the injury. And most of the time the kid that gets injured is not the player who scored the goals, but sometimes, as in this case, it is the guy who scored the goal.


            There is an expression is sports that says when you score a goal, a touchdown, or some other event that you act like you have done it before. We used to say act like you expect to do it again, and that you appreciate the many players that helped you make it happen.


            I had the good fortune to talk to this young man  a couple of days later. about what had happened during the game. I explained to him what really happened and why it happened. He is a very good kid band comes from a family that understands the journey.


            The second play happened a little later in the game and was connected to the winning team’s reaction to one of the star players getting hurt. One of their best players took the puck from behind his net and skated all the way down the ice, cutting in front of the other teams net trying to force the puck through the other team’s goalie. Now what really happened there was that player could have got hurt also.


             Or, he could have passed the puck to one of the players on the ice that hadn’t seen a lot of playing time, thus having that player become more involved in the team’s success. He would practice harder and feel better because one of the best players had included him in the play during the game.


            People fail to realize what happens after a game is over, and the long term consequences of what happened during then game to mental well being of the players on both teams.


             Kids talk, will text, face book, or something. Players that don’t play feel excluded. I know some people argue that they have to earn playing time and know their roles on a team. WRONG. Human beings do not fully develop until they are into their twenties. Saying an athlete’s level of skill and future ability is already established by the age of sixteen is not supported by scientific facts.


            The more kids you play the better the whole team will be. Inter team competition and team development still is and always will be the most part of a team’s  long term success. Players develop at different times in their lives and at different speeds. The more chances you give them the better chance you have of finding out who can play. The less chances you give them the less they develop. The less they develop the more they feel disenfranchised. They don’t work as hard and as often as they should because they figure what is the use.




            Most of all of this behavior, and its cause and effect principles have been lost on today’s reincarnation of youth sports. It is now important to win and win big. You have heard the expression blowouts don’t help either team. Hopefully in this blog you have learned that they actually hurt teams, both teams. The winning team had a good player get hurt and the losing team stopped playing together and decided to seek revenge for what they felt was poor sportsmanship by the other team. Ironic, the very behavior they were upset with, was the very behavior they used (poor sportsmanship) to even up the “score.”

V.J. has written a book on youth sports called Stop the Tsunami in Youth Sports.You can follow him on twitter @VJJStanley, face book( Frozen Shorts) website:, call the office 585-743-1020, or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.