This blog is a collection of my thoughts and experiences from ten years as a skate dad. For those of you sitting with your jackets in the bleachers, first I salute you, but second I want to give you an honest sense of what you are in for and what to expect. Ice skating is both a trying and a glorious sport, but it doesn't happen without the special group of folks who cheer, support, and console the participants. This is dedicated to you.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

- a shame

The empty SWP regionals a couple of weeks ago were rather saddening. The skaters, a member or two of their families, and the judges were there. But aside from me and the immediates, the film crew, some coaches and a couple of vendors, nobody else was present. Maybe 30 people were in the rink total, counting the skaters. Yeah I went on a Monday so that was part of it. Why do they schedule the interesting junior and senior events on a Monday and Tuesday anyway?

Back a dozen years or so ago my daughter and I went to an interclub event (at the same rink, Anaheim ice!) and the place was a zoo. Vendors squeezed in everywhere, hardly room to change into your skates, and maybe an audience of 150, with lots of friends and supporters from the home rinks.

What has happened, is it an "economy" thing? Has it become nearly impossible to justify the time and expense to groom a traveling skater? Or is it a general disenchantment with the competitive environment? Or something else entirely? I do realize of course that the folks in regionals are somewhat on a different "track" than those at a group competition: many drove up from San Diego and a couple were from Arizona. So it's not like I'm expecting all their fellow rink mice.

Maybe it's just that the USFSA has never really "advertised" the regional qualifying events to the general public. They do emplace dasher banners so they must be anticipating /some/ sort of audience, but I don't know how the average fan would be aware of such a thing. Your average fan doesn't go to USFSA's web site to search for nearby events: they just know about what's on television.

An empty rink is saddening for a couple of reasons. l guess for someone who knows skating the travesty is that these gals, the skaters, really deserve better. They have seriously worked their butts off to get here, so they deserve tons of applause for their efforts; an empty rink feels like a snub. But there seems to be a deeper sadness here, an existential sadness.

It feels like a big waste -- like a half vacated shopping mall it's an idea that at one time would have seemed to be popular but now no longer seems to make sense. Mostly the feeling I get is that It's a Shame. It's a shame in the sense that somebody backed into your parked new car. Or that you irrevocably wrecked your favorite suit. It's a shame in that it feels like a waste of time, a wasted thousand hours of practice. It's a shame in that it seems at this point, at Regionals, it should really be so much more.

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