...: Marsh Chatter
Looking for something to do? Tired of the high cost of sporting events? Tired of the well-paid (some might say over-paid) players who forgot about where they started? Tired of the owners cashing in on the audience and players? You have plenty of other options...
There are many options out there for the public to go and cheer on a player or a team of their choice. These other events would welcome an audience and in some cases they don't even charge for seats... and if they do it is usually less than the cost of a movie. Imagine that! Compared to the high dollar NFL or NBA or NHL or MLB games which will run one person > $30 just for a seat (some > $100) -- and forget about the extravagant food costs.
Have you considered your Alma Mater (high school, college)? Have you considered the 2nd or 3rd tier sports teams? Have you considered the women's leagues? Have you considered sports other than baseball, golf, or football... say track & field, volleyball, or...?
Here's a thought - consider the young sportsman playing hockey at the Midget (multi-level), Bantam, Mite, or Pee Wee levels. This level of sports is where those pro sports players get started. There's a lot of learning going on - not just the skills of playing a given sport, but the maturity of the player.
This is where the concept of sportsmanship is instilled into the player. There's a fair amount of action, there's a fair amount of mistakes, and yes you will even find a bit of bad behavior - but hey, the kids are human, get over it - because they do, they move on, and they learn!
What will you see at these young person events? Here's some pictures of a tournament Shari and I attended this last fall. There were teams from Michigan and Markham (near Toronto)... of 15/16 year old young sportsman, invited to Western Michigan University to play two days of hockey. It wasn't a major tournament, no real prizes, no celebrities, just a chance to work and practice the craft.
Near & Far
Something you will notice is the quality of these young kids. The Markham team happened to be outside the stadium when we arrived. Both of us were outfitted in the blazing Orange of our Little Caesars team - and one of the Markham players broke out of the pack and opened the door for us. That's right! You may get off the floor and continue reading... See if that will happen for you at a Pro event, or at the movie theatre, or even at your church...
We went to watch our nephew, Pearce, play hockey with the Little Caesars team. This team is sponsored by the company who owns the Detroit Red Wings - the Illitch family. You might have heard of them.
Thanks for the Sponsorship!
In the Detroit area, there are several top young teams - sponsored by companies, besides the Little Caesars team, there is Honeybaked (you might have had one of their hams), Compuware (owners of the Carolina Hurricanes and sponsor of Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute) - the Karmanos family, and many other supporters for which these lower level opportunities would not exist without their generosity.
Please know that these young sportsman are not on a free ride as they play in these games. Besides the effort at training and participating - each have participation fees they find some way to pay. Thankfully for many of these players, there are folks who step up and help kids who cannot afford the several thousand dollars in equipment, travel, and food costs that it takes to play. These folks could be your local hardware store owner, doctors, and grocers, etc. Commendations offered to these folks... who many times remain anonymous.
So - what do you see at these events?
Lots Of Action
It's not as fast as the pro sports, but it can be every bit as exciting! Breakaways, surprising feats of athleticism, amazing blocks, smart plays, and even plays you wished you could take back... it's all there!
Listening and Learning
The players are learning. They need guidance, correction, and motivation. This occurs via the on-ice officials, the coaches, and yes - even the fans hollering from the stands.
Part of the Hockey Way!
No matter what happens during the game, reflection comes after... in the form of the handshake skate. Players and Coaches skate the line. Each team interacting with the other. Sure there could be hard feelings as a result of play during the game - but it's a game, suck it up and move on.
What it's About?
Many teams probably display words such as the ones above. These are displayed in the entry way to the WMU Hockey team locker. They really are good words for any of us to understand/use 'in our own lives'. In short... EARN IT.
Words To Abide By
Short motivation phrases - pointed out by my brother, Andy (in his best Vanna White impression). If only regular folks would read and understand what we expect from our young sportsman. There's so many 'if onlys' in our world - In short: just "LIVE IT".
Young sportsman need support, not just monetarily, but someone to talk to, fans with butts in the seats. Give them a little of what they 'might' hear if they are skilled and lucky enough to move up in the league. This includes all those high school teams (not just the sports teams, but those others that compete or display talents).
Why Do They Do It?
Some of those young sportsman have dreams of moving up, possibly even to the pro level. Will it happen? Who knows... but without dreams, what motivates?
So, get out there, go back and visit, support those young sportsman who are out there learning skills, competing, and having fun. You will find that your attendance will certainly be less expensive and you might find that your time is better spent at those events, then the pro events.