For many, autumn means hockey. Whether you are off to the local rink with the kids for an early Saturday morning game or live in the seemingly eternal hope of Leaf’s Nation, many welcome the perennial return of Canada’s favourite sport. My son joined the ranks of hockey parent this year and thankfully the games are on Saturday morning so I can get out and support my grandson. And I must say, I am totally impressed with the efficiency and organization of amateur hockey as I have experienced it so far. You really get the sense that you have entered Canada’s great hockey machine and that in addition to providing fun for the kids and parents alike, there is a more serious agenda as the nation searches for its next Sydney Crosby. And I’m OK with that. Healthy competition leads to excellence; be it in sports, music, science or literature. When we are not challenged to be our best most of us will fall short of the mark, and consequently, the best of the best may go undiscovered. And that would be a shame if you enjoy great athletic accomplishment, musical excellence or the benefits science and medicine bring to our lives.
But the reality is that most of us do not have the talent to be truly great in any of these categories. And to strive for such greatness when we are ill equipped to achieve it can only lead, in the long run, to frustration and disappointment. I do believe that it is our responsibility to do our best with the gifts we have been given, and I think there can be much satisfaction and joy in that. It can also be very rewarding to watch our kids play and grow in confidence and competence and to learn about good sportsmanship, life skills that will stay with them. But we need to apply a little caution and self-awareness as well. Is my kid really enjoying this game or am I living vicariously through her? If she isn’t having fun, maybe its time to try something else.
I also believe that whatever level we are able to play at, whatever the game may be, that’s OK. It may be useful to recall Jesus’ words where, speaking of true greatness he says, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest”. Certainly, this is good news, not only for us but also for the Leafs!