Hey coach listen, I have plenty of money and will throw $100,000 into the club, but you have to play my kid every game.
Sounds like something from a Demi Moore movie right? Unfortunately, it is not. The epidemic of financial influence has clouded the judgment of coaches from every sport in the country, and junior hockey is not excluded.
The bottom line is that money does buy influence. The temptation can be overwhelming for both the parent and any organization. The problem becomes glaring for the young prospect. It does not take a genius for the rest of any team to figure out how a certain player made the roster. That player has to constantly prove his worth to a team, he is seldom accepted by the entire group unless he is putting up the credit card for lunch.
There is even one story about an overzealous parent, of a former college club hockey player, that would pay for coaches to travel on his private jet to some away games. The kid could actually play, but we can never be sure if he would have received as much attention if it were not for daddy's fat wallet.
It is natural for parents to want to help the children. But there has to come a time when every player needs to be able win a roster spot based his own abilities, not on daddy's money. This needs to happen long before the player reaches the Tier I or II levels of junior hockey.
Author: Stephen Heisler
Stephen Heisler has spent a lifetime in the game of hockey. Stephen is also working with individual teams, coaches, and players as a director with the Heisler Group. Stephen, his wife Deysi, and four children reside in Orlando, Florida.
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