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Kids' Sports Shouldn't Imitate the Pros'

By Ontario Minor Hockey Association, 06/17/15, 1:00PM EDT

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Tom Renney explains his experiences in the game and his vision for it moving forward

Hockey Canada chose a hockey man for its top position by hiring longtime coach Tom Renney as president and CEO almost one year ago. Although many know Renney from behind the bench in the NHL, the Cranbrook B.C. native has experience and a passion for all levels of hockey which is evident when hearing him speak about his own experiences in the game and his vision for it moving forward.

Here is an excerpt from a speech that Mr. Renney gave at the recent Ontario Minor Hockey Association Annual General Meeting:

“I believe Sport today too often imitates the pros with a misguided view that such imitation is good. Instead, “ real “ minor sports should continue to focus on teaching our children respect, ethics, honor, teamwork, playing within the rules, the value of relationships, and learning how to win and lose. Professional sport doesn’t teach values, it reveals them. 

  • Real sport is five kids piling in to a car, driving to practice, talking about the day and looking forward to sweating. 
  • Real sport is a bunch of kids playing road hockey or pickup baseball, and missing dinner because they got so engaged in the game. 
  • Real sport doesn’t require 13 year olds to wear ties at games, be at the rink 90 minutes before a game, miss school for practice, sit around on expensive ice straining to hear a coach talking about something, or counting face-offs. 
  • Real sport is please and thank you. 
  • Real sport is when your son or daughter loves the sport so much they will do the dishes, and cut the lawn so you get some time to yourself before driving them to their activity. 
  • Real sport is fast hard practices, with game like drills that leave you spent after 45 minutes. 
  • Real sport is hockey, but it is also swimming, wrestling, badminton, tennis, golf, and soccer … sport you can play for decades. 
  • Real sport keeps kids playing, and whether they ever reach a podium, or win a Stanley Cup, keeping individuals participating longer is part of the biggest victory … the victory of making a positive difference in someone’s life and our community. This is what is virtuous about sport. 

We won’t all be lucky enough to play in the NHL, or Olympics, but we can make a very positive difference by ensuring that the lessons of sport are cement in our behavior. When we learn these lessons, we will also perform better in school, business, and life.”

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