Why organized sports are one of the most fulfilling experiences in the world
Walking into a crowded hockey dressing room for the first time at the age of 10 was probably one of the most intimidating moments of my life. For two years prior, I had been begging my mom and dad to sign me up for hockey, but every time I asked I was be told “no” because I hadn’t even learned how to skate yet.
With aspirations of being a goalie, it was essential that I knew what I was doing once I strapped on my skates. I had played goalie enough in street hockey to think I’d be the next Patrick Roy. It’s why I needed my parents to sign me up. However, I was nowhere near that talented and my parents were right.
I went on the ice for the first time with gear my parents had bought for me at Canadian Tire, and it was my first time ever skating. As soon as my shining silver blades hit the ice, I fell face first, with the metal bars of my goalie mask hitting the ice. Of course, like any 10-year-old who has just felt a sudden wave of embarrassment, I started to cry. But I picked myself up and made it through the session.
After the practice, on the drive home from the arena, almost in unison, my mom and dad asked me if I “still wanted to play.” I had begged to play for too long to tell them no and, quite frankly, my decision to keep playing hockey was one of the best decisions of my life.
Organized sports are a weird animal. On the one hand, you have the kids who aren’t that talented but who play for fun, and on the other, you have the ultra-talented kids whose parents have enrolled them in every single training camp imaginable. Those are the kids who are dedicated to making the NHL, the NBA or the NFL. I, however, just wanted to play for fun.
No matter what type of player you are, organized sports are a great way to spend your childhood. As a shy kid who didn’t have many friends when I started playing hockey, (yes, sad I know), playing sports was a great way for me to meet new people. Some of my best friends are people I met through hockey or people I already knew but bonded with because we were on the same team.
Playing organized sports also gave me the confidence to do things I never thought I could. It gave me an outlet to be passionate about something. Allowing myself to be passionate about something without feeling judged is a big reason why I’m here doing what I’m doing today.
Now it may seem tacky or cliché, but the best part about playing organized sports is the memories. Be it waking up at 5 a.m. for 6 a.m. practices in the dead of winter or driving to Kanata, Ont. every year for tournaments, some of the best days of my life have been spent in an icy arena.
The wins, the losses—they all meant something to me when I played. My goal was to never become a professional, but being competitive and dedicating myself to something was easily one of the coolest things I’ve had the chance to do.
A couple of years ago, I had to quit because of school and other commitments. But I still think about playing almost every day. It’s something I miss and an opportunity I’d recommend to anybody.
It’s funny, because people always ask me why people care about sports so much. It’s definitely a hard question to answer, but I think it becomes easier once you’ve actually played a sport. Whether it’s the camaraderie, the feeling you get after a big win or just the sense of belonging and purpose, sports bring people together. They’re fun. Nothing more, nothing less—and I think that’s all you really need to know.
While most of you reading this are probably past your teenage years, it isn’t too late to get involved in organized sports. Beer leagues, office leagues and adult leagues can be found for pretty much every sport out there. Even if you’ve never tried the sport you want to play, these adult leagues are filled with novices and former high-level players who just want to have a little fun. A great resource is clubmontreal.ca, which gives a list of leagues that cover a variety of sports that you can join.
You don’t have to be a kid to reap the benefits of organized sports and that’s what’s great about them. As sports fans, we all have dreams of scoring a game-winning goal or making the last save in a shootout. These are moments we think we have to be professionals to experience, but that isn’t true. All you need is some friends, a great sport and the toughness to keep pushing yourself when things don’t go the way you want them to at first.