Sometimes in life you have to take a step back and look at the whole picture. You need to pause and think about what is truly important. Recently my family has had to take that step back and re-evaluate what our long term priorities are and what is truly important to us. Our community, like many others in New Brunswick, has been embroiled in a controversy over ice user fees at the local arena. I won't get into all the details because really they don't matter a great deal. The end result was that our minor hockey organization needed to raise it's registration rates for the upcoming hockey season.
Now before I go much further I should explain that I'm a true Canadian and hockey has long been a large component of my life. That will now change but not without long discussions between my wife and I and at times our kids. It has been a tough decision and now that we've made it, I'm afraid that people might misconstrue the reason's for the decision, and worse that decision might have a long term impact on our son. As an 8 year old he really improved his game last year and started to develop a love for the game that might now fade.
The decision to pull him from hockey this year was not simply due to the increase in registration fees and I wanted to make that clear. We are a family of four with a modest household income, restricted mainly by our personal choices, my wife to be home with our kids as much as possible (love you so much for that Michelle) and me because I wanted to "make a difference" with a non-profit organization. We are fine with those choices and have managed our funds well. Hockey however, is an expensive sport. It doesn't just include registration fees but equipment and travel as well.
When I was a kid travel wasn't necessary to play hockey. You could play house league and simply play for fun and not to compete. What ever happened to house league anyways? Why do 7 & 8 year old kids need to travel an hour every other week to play? Is it because hockey has priced itself so high that participation numbers are dropping? I really don't know. I do know that if the whole model of minor hockey was restructured, my son might still be playing. If we just had to pay registration and the needed equipment then maybe he could still play.
When we looked at what was important for our family, we felt being a family was important. You see our daughter also wanted to skate this year and we definitely couldn't say no to her and yes to our son. Also I haven't had any recreation outside of my hiking and fishing and trust me, I could use a gym membership. As a family we can all enjoy the local civic center for roughly the same price both kids could register for hockey. Thus, we've decided to spend more time together and diversify our interests.
Hockey is still a sport and I'm sure, like last winter, I can find a pond somewhere this winter and scrape it off when we have the urge to slap a puck around. Since there is no strict structure to the pond hockey we'll all be able to play that together too. If you're looking for a game of shinny this winter, look us up.