When a kid does something wrong, it’s news for days if not weeks. If they do something really bad, after week two of unending “coverage” we start seeing pieces about “What’s Wrong With Society?” and “Will Your Child Murder You Tonight?” If you’re lucky, they’ll tell you who is to blame for all this; chances are it’s video games or tv or music. What about when kids do something right?
Tonight, I find myself in the “Captain’s Club”, a lounge on the 2nd floor of GM Place. I’m here to take photos. Over the past 33 years, the Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association (PCAHA) has given away more than $380,000 to 687 players. I’m willing to bet the $10,250 they give away tonight that you have never heard a thing about it or the kids who win. Despite several invitations, no major news provider in the Lower Mainland has ever mentioned it, let alone attended. Even the power of the Vancouver Canucks, who present five scholarships, can’t sway the media to pay attention.
However, get one of these to kids to throw a brick through a window instead of excel in school (coach and referee sports, work with special needs children, be camp counselors, produce films about sustainability, raise money for Third World nations, volunteer for the Red Cross, save a school from closing (yeah, he did), tutor, play an instrument, volunteer with Big Brothers/Sisters, work at the Food Bank, bring Palestinian and Israeli children together (no, I am not making this up), act in school productions, write for the school paper, be on the Grad Committee and/or Student Council, raise $70,000 for cancer research, work at a Mexican orphanage, prepare and serve food in a soup kitchen) or play a damn good game of hockey on top of it all and it makes it to the papers.
The list above is a short cross section of the accomplishments of the winners tonight. The ceremony usually lasts about 30-45 minutes and is a generally tame affair. One year Brian Burke scared the hell out of some kid by yelling out, “Smile! They’re giving you money!” just as I was about to take the picture. Burke, for the record, stayed for the entire ceremony that night, despite his aides constantly tapping at watches. He even stayed afterward to take pictures and sign autographs for anyone who wanted them. He knew how important nights like this were. Small and quiet as the ceremony is, it’s special for the kids and parents (and coaches and teachers and principals) to know that there are rewards for hard honest work, and hockey.
Slate.com ran an article about positive peer pressure. Surround children with smart, achieving classmates and your child is likely to rise to the occasion. This makes perfect sense to me. So why do we rarely hear about the kids who do well? If children are our future, maybe it would be a good idea to remind them now and again that there is still a future worth having. Just a thought.