old guy is on his way to his perch in the quiet corner
of the rink. He shuffles past two parents deep in conversation.
His gait is slow and unsteady, which allows him to catch long
bits of conversation. His ears are still sharp.
parents are here for the first game of the playoffs; two teams
that have pounded each other throughout the season are locked
into what promises to be an emotional contest. At least two
of the parents, though, aren't discussing the impending battle;
they're talking about the price of playing minor hockey in
the big city.
of them has a son who's considering the jump to AAA hockey.
He's a great AA player who has enjoyed being the star at the
lower level. Many of the boy's friends have successfully made
the leap to the top. His dad is well aware of the extra intensity
and aggressiveness that's required to survive the on-ice wars.
He's completely unprepared for the price he'll have to pay
to see if his son has what it takes.
few days ago he received a recruitment call from a coach who
wanted his son to move up to AAA. He talked about scheduling
two and maybe three extra practices a week. He was planning
on recruiting specialized coaches to work with the players
on their skating and their shooting.
team would pay to have a few games recorded for post-game
video analysis. It sounded great. All this and more for the
registration fee of $3,400. Two post-dated cheques would be
acceptable, although one up-front payment is preferred.
pants and sticks? Those are the responsibility of the player.
Five tournaments, three of them requiring hotel rooms for
at least two nights, meals and transportation. Then there
are the incidental costs of skates, tape and admission fees
to the games.
dad balked at the price, which surprised the coach. He thought
the fees were low. Most teams were demanding more than $4,000
and some were closer to $5,000.
old guy hears it all. His shoelace just happened
to come undone as he moseyed by. Getting down on his haunches
and then back up is a slow laborious process so he's able
to hear every last word. Those numbers have him shaking his
head and mumbling to himself. He remembers buying his gold
'69 Chevy Biscayne for $2,942. Now it costs more than that
for a kid to play hockey for a season, and for a bad team
with bad coaching.
ahead he sees Tom, who's on the executive of his grandsons
AA club. As Tom gets closer the old guy calls out. "Hey,
Tom. What are you crooks charging to play here next year?"
is standing by himself. He hears his name and looks around,
searching to see who's calling. He spots the old guy making
his way towards him. They're not close friends, but they've
known each other for years.
haven't seen you for a long time. That must be your grandson
out there. By the sound of it you haven't become any more
use wasting time on being nice," says the old guy, matter-of-factly.
"So how much are you guys ripping people off to have
kids wear those wretched green sweaters of yours?"
knows Jimmy as loud and cantankerous but he also
knows him as honest and straightforward. "We had a meeting
last week and decided we needed to raise the fees a bit."
can you guys justify charging more money?" The old guy
could feel one of his rants coming over him. "You guys
are destroying the game. All you do is collect money. Not
everyone’s rich, you know. What do you guys do, use
registration fees for beer money?"
tries to be patient.
give me a chance here. We raised our fees by $50. That makes
it $700 per kid. I know it's a lot, but it's cheaper than
the big boys in AAA. Our fees are probably the cheapest in
the league. Most of the other teams are charging up to $900.
They're annoyed with us for keeping ours so low.”
anger begins to evaporate. Seven hundred dollars is a lot,
too much, but less than $900, and far cheaper than the thousands
of dollars the big-time AAA teams are demanding. The old guy
settles onto the cold bench as Tom explains what the players
get for the money.
starts with a spring jacket and a team cap when the players
sign their registration card. The organization will supply
hockey pants, gloves, practice sweater, socks, bag and ice
time for six practices a month, along with fees for referees
and game sheets. On top of that there will be team and individual
pictures, a team banquet and the entry fee for two tournaments.
made some sense to the old guy although he wasn’t convinced.
A look at the extravagant SUVs and the luxury imports in the
arena parking lot shows clearly that some of these parents
have money to burn. But what about the single moms and unemployed
labourers struggling to make ends meet who want their kids
to play on the most competitive teams?
thoughts are interrupted by the sound of the referee's whistle.
He leans forward to watch the play and concerns about the
cost of hockey vanish. That's one of the benefits of being
the grandpa: you don't have to pay the bills.
reading your light hearted take on some of the more sensitive
issues in minor league hockey. This weeks article is equally
as good, and compels me to write. I am a single mother, struggling
to pay for hockey and considering the move back down to houseleague
for my son.
says that I can't do that too him, that he is too good for
houseleague. Almost everyone who says that, is in a two parent
family and drive the new SUV's and vans and have the money
to buy their kid a $250 hockey stick too.
can't afford the "AAA" costs either. So, we're in
the middle.... "A". H loves the game. But, financially,
we can't keep up. There is no middle ground.
the more money that parents dole out to keep their kids playing
travel hockey, the more expectations they place on their child
and the other players.It ends up crushing the kids' enthusiasm
and spirit for the game. I've witnessed that first hand. Parents
can be a very critical group of people when their kid isn't
getting as much ice time as the other kids. It never ends.
for your time. Keep writing.
sure if this article is factual or fictional but I guess it
doesn't matter as the content seems true enough.
me to no end that a childs' future in hockey can/will be determined
by the size of the parents wallet.
grew up in a household of very modest means where if my parents
had been required to pay such exorbitant fees I would never
have been able to participate. To make a long story short,
I went on to University mainly because of the white collar
enviroment I was introduced to through junior hockey and that
it was the last competitive level of amateur hockey left for
me to play. The degree I earned was, quite frankly , secondary
at the time.
I growing up today in the same circumstances I am quite certain
I would not even have made it to junior as the financial resources
wouldn't have been there in minor hockey. I find it saddening
that few children in the future will have doors open for them
the way they did for me becuase they were blessed with a gift
and passion for hockey.
I reading this correctly? Between $700.00 and $900.00 for
a kid to play hockey? And AA or AAA hockey? I'm emailing from
suburban Detroit, Michigan, where it costs us $1,300.00 for
a season of House "B" hockey.
wanna' play A or AA...that will cost you over $3,500.00 per
season. $700.00 to $900.00? Where do we sign-up?
This is the first time I have come across this web page, just by chance looking up hockey scores for my son. I have now bookmarked the page.
The headline" hockey cost" took my eye and reading Tracys story I was compelled to respond as well.
My son is 11 years old and lives, breathes and eats hockey.
After leaving Novice and home arena he went into atom "AAA" at the same time I become a single mom. What an eye-opener that was.
The cost was overwhelming. On top of registration fees there were many extra costs - $220.00 for jerseys, weekly ticket sales, many more games away, hotel expensinces, more tournaments, more games, and practices an hour away.
My son loves the game,and has never ever complained once about the travel and has met lots of new friends.
I have been asked over and over again from friends and family how do you do it, travelling almost every weekend ,going to practices and the big cost of hockey?
The answer is always the same, he loves the game and its my dream not for him to become a super star but just to become the best person he can be, to hopefully keep him off the streets and out of trouble.
I have sacrificed alot of time, and money that sometimes I didn't have so he could play the game that he loves so much .
It would be my dream that high level hockey like the "AAA" teams, wasnt such a financial burden on low income families so that every kid has the chance play.
I give a hats off to every person that is involved in minor hockey and especially to the Dads that do give up their free time to coach these kids,
From small town Nova Scotia