Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Parental "No" Files: Hockey Tournaments

Received an email from my friend, fellow Trench Talker, and bariatric surgeon Dr. Laz Klein. He wanted to share an email he received from the coaches of his 10 year old's hockey team. They were about to head out for a weekend tournament and the coach was requesting that parents chip in to bring some supplies.

What did the coach want brought? Among other things,
"4 cases of bottled water, 24 cans of Coke, 24 cans of Diet Coke, 24 cans of Sprite, plus another misc case of pop… AND a couple cases of juice boxes"
Now the good news for this team's parents, with Laz involved they're not going to need to say "No" as his immediate response quashed the plan,
"Thanks for bringing bottled water. Certainly we can also help with that. However, do you think it's reasonable to limit the amount of pop that our kids drink this weekend?

I spend all day telling my patients how this stuff is poison and I really can't turn around and give it to our kids. There really should not be any acceptable time for children to drink this stuff. Juice is not much better. Instead of apple juice have them eat an apple. Gatorade is just pop with better marketing. There's also no acceptable time for adults either but that is a separate matter.
But I'm guessing there are far more hockey tournaments for 10 year olds with buses filled with pop, than there are tournaments where one of the parents is frustrated enough to forcefully and authoritatively say "No"

What's the worst thing your kids were given to eat in the name of organized sport?

[The winner of the $100 gift card draw from yesterday was Cynthia Dunlavy.  Cynthia please email me your mailing address at yonifreedhoff over at that gmail place.  Thanks to everyone who entered and shared their goals.]

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  1. Anthony7:48 am

    A few years ago when my son was still taking part in springboard diving, his club flew to Winnipeg for a national qualifying competition. The big draw was that the members of the Canadian National Team were to be there in preparation for a large international meet coming up the following month. The registration fees covered the lunch and supper meals as the competitors (at least at my son’s level) were expected to stay at the pool for the duration of the competition each day.
    When he got back home to Halifax we asked how the food was. Fully expecting that they would have been fed nutritious meals as there were a lot of high level athletes there and this would have been a great place to stress sport nutrition.
    He said great. Each meal had been sponsored by a different fast food company. Burgers, fries, pizza and subs with pop and juice. They also had access to the snack table which had muffins, potato chips, granola bars (chocolate covered), freezes and bottled water.
    What a great way to impress young athletes with balanced nutritional meals.
    I asked my son if the National team members ate the same things as they did. His reply not that I saw.
    I guess sponsorship and donations made the meet better financially for the organizers but at the price of teaching young athletes that it is OK for athletes to fill up on fast food during competitions. The real kicker was that his club did teach proper nutrition and eating habits for athletes and had a food policy for traveling where these types of foods were not to be consumed.
    Their take was that they had no control over the food provided at these events. I argue that they have all the control since they support these decisions by having their athletes travel to compete and that without the athletes there would be no Dive meet.

  2. Anonymous8:34 am

    Hi Dr. Freedhoff,

    I can't tell you enough how much I appreciate that you tackle these issues head on. Being a hockey parent myself to 8 and 9 year-olds, this is a constant war that I always feel alone in battling. My 9 year olds team is particularly the worst. Before each game we have a number of parents who choose to give their boys chocolate bars, candy and gatorade - as you know, it will make them play better! I had to have a frank discussion with my son, after a game a few weeks ago, he told us of how a parent went around the dressing room offering coffee to the kids (pregame). This parent, told the kids "it will help you". Being very influenced 9 year olds, they all said yes. Aside from this, the coffee was also offered in sips from the same cup to each player. Ughhh - what a great idea, lets all share whatever viruses are plaguing us at this time of year too.

    How can we teach our children good habits, when we have to co-exist the likes of people who clearly don't get it!

    A concerned mom

  3. Worst thing by far is the energy drinks. A number of companies provide their product for free to local junior clubs, and the kids buy in whole hog. No one should be getting hopped up on caffeine and sugar before engaging in an activity that frequently pushes your heart rate to your max, and we do talk to the parents about why they're a terrible idea before a game, but it's hard to get the kids to buy in when they see the bigger, skilled players popping them.

  4. My son plays hockey, he is 6 years old. The coach just had a meeting with the parents and we all had to sign a sheet saying we heard what they were saying. One of those things was that there will be NO drinks other than water allowed in their squirt cups for practices or for games. No pop, no juice, no gatorade nothing! I only give him water anyhow, but it was nice that this was coming from the coach. Hockey Canada has that in their rules, wonder how many other coaches enforce that rule. I'm sure that there will be many many parental No's from this lady over the course of my three kids' sporting events :-)

    1. I WISH that my step-sons coaches enforced this as well! And soccer isn't any better than hockey, either.

      I am amazed that these coaches aren't using their position to really encourage healthy balanced eating to the ever-so-influential children who don't always like to listen to mom and dad.

  5. I am always frustrated that we can't bring homemade food to class parties (health dept. rules) so they go out and buy the worst cupcakes/donuts/twizzlers they can find with no healthy alternatives. We actually changed schools to get away from that.

  6. Anonymous11:50 am

    It wasn't for a sport, but when my daughter's school (which is already in a very low-income neighborhood, with more than 50% families qualifying for free or reduced lunch) had a food drive for the local food bank, the prize for the winning class was...a pizza party. I try to choose my battles, but for that I sent an email. It is so confusing to try to send a message about hunger and need and then reward kids with pizza (on top of the breakfast, lunch AND snack they've already had). Can't helping the community be enough by itself?

  7. Just a note that Hockey Canada has no such rule on drinks. That's purely a coaching decision, and it's one that some parents (and even their home association) might take issue with. Part of the training that's given to coaches and trainers are to emphasize a healthy nutritional regimen to players and parents, but what's permitted on the bench drink-wise is not a rule, and the coaching staff are volunteers, not experts.

    Most coaches provide water on the bench, but some also provide gatorade (or similar), especially at higher levels, but there's no regulation to only provide water.

    (as an aside, you only have to look as far as Hockey Canada's marketing partners to see where their qualifications on nutrition are. They're a good org, but they're like a lot of other youth orgs looking for funding http://www.hockeycanada.ca/index.php?ci_id=22464)

  8. While I support kids drinking water, the idea of bottled water being bought for kids activities gets me riled up. Why not just have each of them bring several refillable water bottles from home and then have them fill them up several times over the course of the weekend. Certainly that isn't that hard? Or, if necessary, buy some refillable water bottles for the team and re-use them at each tournament over the course of the year.

  9. Anonymous2:57 pm

    I was so relieved when my son's soccer team this fall laid down the law and team snacks for after the game could be fresh fruit only and no drinks other than water. Thank goodness! In the past, the after-game snack ended up being things like chips, cookies, brownies, granola bars (not much better than a cookie), crackers. Just because they've been running around for an hour doesn't mean we have to fill them with junk afterwards. I wish more coaches would see the light.

  10. Anonymous4:31 pm

    My daughter (3 years old) was given a bag of 5cent candies at the end of her gymnastics class for good work... She didn't know what it was! I swooped and swapped them for a container of sliced apples and water. She as happy with that- but I don't think I will be able to get away with it for much longer... She's wise to my ways.

  11. Anonymous7:58 pm

    The National Coaching Certification Program has a module that addresses coaching ethics. Much of the discussion tends to revolve around injury, fair play time, and bullying, but maybe a discussion around the responsibility for a child's healthy nutrition, which also translates into better performance, should be included. But then again, Canada's Food Guide is the guideline used, nevermind, the kids are screwed again.

  12. Anonymous6:10 pm

    My son plays elite level major hockey. Water is all they drink. I've been lucky to have nutrionally focused coaches along the way.

  13. Anonymous1:22 pm

    Look at Skate Canada Nova Scotia's Home page. One of their major sponsor's is chocolate. Why???