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Mom Mondays: Playing hooky to play hockey

(Flickr photo by Max Klingensmith

If your child is in a minor hockey program, chances are pretty good that he or she has missed school on a Friday to attend a hockey tournament.

It’s just the way those tournaments roll. The round-robin games take place on Friday and Saturday, while the playoff games take place Sunday. The parents take time off work and the kids get a day off school. It’s a sacred rite in minor hockey. 

Ninety-nine per cent of the tournaments my three kids participated in started on a Friday and ended Sunday (and very late on Sunday, if we were dubiously lucky!). How many tournaments take place in Canada annually requiring kids to be off school and parents to be off work (and coaches, and referees, and timekeepers as well)? I have no doubt they would number in the thousands.

After 16 years as a hockey mom, it still baffles me why tournaments don’t start on a Saturday and end on a Monday. The majority of the travel could take place after school on Friday without missing school or affecting our nation’s Gross Domestic Product. 

The ‘chosen ones’ advance and are the ones who have to make amends to their principals and employers. The ‘losers’ go home and haven’t missed anything exciting (or important) at school or work.

I once received a phone call from a school official because I took one of my kids out of school for a charity event I wanted them to attend. Evidently this is a paramount to delinquency. But not once – never - has any educator ever debated with me the irresponsibility of taking my kids out of school on a Friday to attend a hockey tournament – It’s a sacred rite in minor hockey.

There must be some collusion with the hospitality industry as room rates on a Friday are considerably higher in some areas than on a Sunday. Or the figure skaters refuse to give up their Sunday ice without a fight. Or is it simply because most liquor stores are closed on Sundays? Since 99.9 per cent of the kids playing minor hockey today will not play in the NHL, does it not make a little more sense to put a little more emphasis on the backup plan (you know, education?)?

I know – I’m a buzzkill. My kids tell me so all the time. There will be many a Timbit parent who’ll argue that I should lighten up; kids will learn more in one day in a hockey tournament than they will in the classroom that day. And I will argue back that this chirp loses its snipe once your child is in high school.

So I think we should start a movement! Sign petitions and stuff. Have your association executive reschedule your home tournament, for a start. Get our teachers to schedule more tests and exams on Fridays. Push our MPs to ban Friday tournament starts. Give demerit points to parents caught with junior hockey equipment in their cars on Fridays. Am I right? Who’s with me on this?

*cricket*, *cricket*!

I know. It’s a sacred rite in minor hockey. No one dares touch a sacred rite in minor hockey.

So once again, this will be me this coming Friday morning: “Hello? This is Astra Groskaufmanis. I’m calling on behalf of [Jersey #12] who is a Grade 10 student at the school. She’ll be missing school today because she’s in a hockey tournament. Again.” 

And you can bet your Erik Karlsson-signed hockey stick, no one will even bat an eye.

Tags: minor hockey

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