Adam Gurri, who kidnaps beloved pets and children in an effort to encourage us to post, has his Amish. Spivonomist has torched the earth. As for me, I see the world through the lens of children’s hockey programs.
Each little fiefdom has its rink or two, whereupon each Fall they charge, say, $700 per child to participate in their hockey program. Forever and ever, amen, $700 bought about 25 hours of ice time and a plastic participation trophy at the end of the season.
At the end of last season, my older son’s team finished second in our nearest fiefdom’s program, losing in the championship game 7-4, or something like that. Against a field of five or six teams, we were above average in our ability to score goals; that’s why we were in the championship game. Well, after the regular fiefdom season, some of the coaches enroll their teams, independently, in private tournaments, which are limited to other such teams.
It is important to note here, for the uninitiated, that these fiefdoms are called “house” leagues, as opposed to traveling all-star teams, which are called “select” teams, and not at all related to the torture of a “travel” team, which is for the insane.
Thus twenty or so house teams are competing against each other in a privately produced tournament. My son’s team met a team in the first game in the first round and were skunked 5-0. The score, had it not been for some miraculous goaltending on our part, could have been 12-0. We protested. “Surely this team is a select team!” we exclaimed, and demanded an investigation. Surely not: this team was a house team from a league in Wheatfield. “But Wheatfield doesn’t have a rink!”
Ah, but it does, a privately owned and operated rink.
We did double-takes amongst each other, each muttering to his neighbor, “There are private house leagues?”
At Wheatfield, for $800 per child, you buy about 50 hours of ice time, plus the enthusiasm of other free peoples who are interested in their children’s competitive and physical development, including competent and responsible coaching, minus the cheap plastic participation trophy, all of which made the decision to risk climbing the wall out of the fiefdom more than sensible. No wonder they skunked us! Compared to $700 for 25 hours of ice, along with the dour attitudes exhibited by us who were squeezed by the iron fist of the cabal of old men who were running the program “the way it was when we were kids,” well, need I say further?
News of this spread like wildfire. Fiefdoms emptied out; other private organizations were discovered. These private organizations began to compete with each other in mid-season for this flood of dollars. In addition to that, the region has seen the construction of, I think, six new pads of ice (a big number) within the last two years.
Instead of the usual “See ya next year” valediction, we now are putting our resources together, measuring each of the programs against each other, deciphering who might be coaching at what level and whether he is better for my child than this other coach, who is also very good. “Are you thinking about returning to the fiefdom?” is met with howls of derision.
I don’t know quite what this phenomenon is: the sudden discovery of a market by many buyers and the subsequent flooding of it, with the responding development of that market for the benefit of those paying to be in it. I’m sure it has a name and has been examined inside and out.
I’m looking forward to seeing my kid again, and I hope Adam Gurri has kept him healthy enough to play hockey next year.