McKenzie book ought to be required reading

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

The crazy time of year is in full swing when people lose their minds and their perspective.

It's minor hockey time.

Early last week there was a minor hockey game at Western Fair Sports Centre. Not sure who the teams were but they looked about peewee age. Not that it really matters.

There was an obvious offside that was missed. It didn't amount to anything in the end. The puck came back out and no damage was done.

But it sparked a verbal assault by an individual on the referee that lasted the rest of the period. The same individual didn't reserve his feelings just for the ref. He spread it out to the other team's players and his own kid.

It raised a lot of questions. Did the parent actually realize what he was doing? What pushes a parent to act that way? How much do parents have invested in their kid? How far will they go to live their dream through their kids?

Until you actually have a kid playing the sport, no one can explain what courses through your veins, or head, when you see him or her on the ice. No one can explain the feelings, the commitment, the involvement, until it happens to you.

Here's something that should be required reading though and not just for parents who have kids in competitive situations. Even the parent who has no child in a rink will find the book enlightening.

Most people know Bob McKenzie and TSN's Hockey Insider. Not surprisingly, hockey plays a massive role in his life.

His book, "Hockey Dad, True Confessions of A (Crazy) Hockey Parent," offers more than just insight into his life as a hockey dad. It offers a terrific look at what drives hockey parents to do what they do, how they justify it and the soul-searching they go through after they do it.

No need to tag just hockey parents as crazy.

The book could go by numerous other titles. "Basketball, Baseball Dad or Volleyball, Soccer Mom: True Confessions of A (Crazy) Gymnastic, Cheerleader, Football, Field Hockey Parent."

While the book talks about the life and times of the McKenzie hockey family, as seen through McKenzie's eyes and the adventures of his hockey playing sons Mike and Shawn, the feelings, emotions and situation is a text book for competitive sports. "I figured the book would resonate on a lot of different levels and create a lot of emotions, mixed as they may be," McKenzie said in an e-mail.

He's right about that.

You aren't going to like everything you read in this book. There are times when you won't like McKenzie or what he's done.

There will be times when you shake your head and wonder how any sane person can do what McKenzie has done. Let me change that, you will shake your head and wonder how any person can do what (insert name here) has done.

McKenzie lived in an arena lobby for two days to make sure his son is registered to play hockey. He got into a confrontation with another coach to the point of being escorted from the arena by two police officers. McKenzie coached his son (which is difficult enough) and called for two stick measurements in a game involving 11-year-olds.

Whether you like everything in the book or not, you'll never been left wanting for emotion, insight or good writing. It's more than just a book about the life of a competitive parent. It's a book that lays bare the emotions of a loving and caring father, the joys and the nightmares parents and children go through in a competitive situation.

There will come a time when reading the book that you'll feel something you might not recognize immediately. You'll eventually figure it out.

It's a startling recognition that the book is a mirror for most parents with a kid in a competitive environment. You'll recognize yourself in all your glory and all your unpleasantness.

morris.dallacosta@sunmedia.ca


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