Fear of missing out is probably costing you a lot of money and aggravation. Some days the cynic in me thinks the entirety of youth sports and junior hockey preys on it and has created a toxic atmosphere that takes all the joy out of why our kids started playing sports to begin with. If you don’t sign up for that off season training, hire that personal trainer, or get that private coach, your child will fall behind! If you don’t attend that tryout or that showcase, you will miss an opportunity! If you don’t make that all star team, you have no chance at a college scholarship!
The internet makes it easier than ever to compare ourselves to others, or for others to compare our kids. You can find highlight clips on YouTube and Instagram, stats on all kinds of websites, and even forums ranking 10-year-olds. Take a minute and imagine your 10-year-old self. Could you handle that? I couldn’t. At 10, I knew who was good at what in my class, but it stayed at school and wasn’t plastered all over the internet for the world to see and comment on. It stayed that way even through high school for me. I wasn’t compared to some kid from Michigan or California.
By the time I had my son, the youth sports landscape had completely changed, and there were more opportunities than ever. My perspective had changed, too. As a parent, I wanted my child to experience as many things as possible and have the best experience possible. I was happy about having more choices, but more choices meant that I had to choose, and what if I made the wrong choice? I didn’t want to let my son down, and I didn’t want other parents thinking I’m a horrible parent.
It is so easy to get caught up in yourself and forget that this is your child’s path, and not everyone’s path is the same, especially in hockey. It’s easy to spend so much time worrying about where they will be tomorrow instead of enjoying where they are right now. It’s also easy to forget all these sports extras are money making opportunities for someone. It can be hard to balance a sales pitch disguised as recruiting with wanting to go to the ends of the earth to give your child as many opportunities as possible.
It is impossible to do everything or to be everything to everyone anyway, so you have to just enjoy the journey. FOMO isn’t productive. It isn’t going to get your child where they want to go, and it is their journey, after all. If you spend too much time worrying about what you are missing out on or what other people think, you miss out on what is happening right now and what needs to happen to get to the next level. Sometimes we get so caught up in ourselves that we forget that we don’t have to participate in the toxicity, but we can. It’s a choice, and you can’t play tug of war with someone if they drop the rope and walk away.
Sometimes the best choice is that team with the horrible record if it means lots of playing time or penalty kill/power play experience. Sometimes the best choice is taking a break and letting your body or mind recover. Sometimes the best choice is the team that never wins but the coach cares about the athlete as a whole person. Doing what is best for your athlete and your family is worth worrying about. The rest of it is just noise.