It may sound crazy, but my friend Hal writes some of the best stuff about youth hockey that I've ever read. His latest post talks about kids tournaments, but its really about kids growing up, and the role that hockey can play.
Last weekend my son's team played in a tourney in Rhode Island. After making it through the preliminary round unscathed, they won their quarter- and semi-final games cleanly, putting them in the finals with the local team who they've played at least a dozen times in the last three years. At the end of 3 periods it was 2 all, and it stayed that way through the first overtime. In their second overtime, in their 6th game in three days, the opponents put in a goal on a great pass and shot combination. Our boys stood proudly as they watched the other team receive their first place trophies, but you could tell that through their exhaustion it was a tough loss.
But as Hal indicates, the value is deeper than just another youth sports event. One evidence on our case was, when after a heartbreaking loss, the boys are lined up at center ice to waiting to shake hands with their opponents who are celebrating their victory. Eleven year olds never line up without adults prodding, asking, pleading, threatening, but these boys do, no matter what the outcome, and without a word from any adult.
Youth hockey is a complex environment, filled with energy and emotion. Plenty of people think its crazy, but don't - there's something there.