If you have a child playing any sport these days, you likely have experienced the joy of tournaments (if you have not, just wait, once your child plays at a certain level, tournaments will come). I recently had a conversation with my son’s coach for next season and we talked about traveling to tournaments – if we will and, if so, how many and where. The coach’s take is that tournaments have a place but if the team is going to spend the time and money to travel to a tournament, there should be a purpose, like playing against higher competition or getting the opportunity for more ice time than might come from league play. This conversation, and the fact that a ton of kids I know were at tournaments this past weekend (Memorial Day – a biggie), got me thinking about what I thought of tournaments.
I should start by saying that I have only travelled to 4 tournaments, and all were for hockey, so my experience is limited. But here are some pros and cons about tournaments that I have observed.
- Team-building – the kids (and parents) get to spend a ton of time together at the rinks, at the hotel, and, most importantly to the kids, by the pool (finding a hotel with a pool is a MUST).
- Experiencing other rinks in different parts of the country. We went to some nice rinks with great amenities and some that left something to be desired (the one with brown ice was interesting). Gives the kids a chance to see how others live.
- Playing against different competition – and, I’d add, unknown competition. Sometimes it is good to play other teams and see how play differs, how the players differ, and how parents behave from different areas.
- Tourism – there are opportunities to sightsee and visit museums or see local sports teams, which is particularly nice when you are in a town you have never been to before.
- Fans – if you have family or friends in the area of the tournament, they can come and see the team play when they otherwise would not have that chance.
- Time – you have to give up at least a weekend and maybe more, plus the prep of packing, etc.
- Expense – gas (or airfare), hotels, food, sightseeing costs, and souvenirs all add up.
- Time off from school and work – goes with time, as we have had to take a Friday off from school and work to get to our destination for a game or two that day.
- Team closeness – this is more of an issue if you don’t particularly enjoy spending time with teammates and families. I liked our folks so it was fun to hang out and see each other, but I could imagine that it would be challenging if you did not get along with some folks because you do see each other at breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner, at the pool, at the rink, and even pass each other on the streets.
- This mainly has to do with winning and losing. If the team does well or even wins the tournament, all of those negatives are wiped out and everyone is happy. However, if the team does poorly, then you find yourself wondering why you spent all that time and money and effort and social energy on this trip. And the trip home can be excruciating.
I’m sure I’ve missed some things for each list, so please let me know. Still not sure what our team will be doing (some local tournaments, yes, those requiring travel – not so sure), but I am sure that as long as my son continues to play travel hockey, we will experience more tournaments. Maybe even some requiring air travel, which scares me. I don’t even want to think about the bag fees for his goalie equipment!