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, December 5, 2015

- protocol

Here's one of the more peculiar and incidental ebb and flows of skating: you have tons of unstructured practice time and moderately adhered to coaching sessions that dramatically funnel down to a strictly timed and scheduled performance. For all the flexibility, creativeness, and random explorations the sport of figure skating allows, there are a few times when the strictures of rules, procedures, and protocol are very binding. Once you're within the vortex of a competition there are a couple even more tightly controlled scenarios you need to abide by.

One of these we'll simply call the Referee. I always wondered what this person did: they get introduced along with the judges and the technical staff. The simple answer is the Referee is the Protocol God. She enforces that every single rule of the competition and all of its standard procedures are being followed down to the last iota. Usually when things run copacetic you don't see her do much at all. If anything out of the ordinary happens though the Referee will intervene. I've seen her have the announcer call the skater back out onto the ice to pick up a dropped bauble from a hairpiece. Once when the door monitor allowed the next flight of skaters to take the ice for warmup before their names had been rollcalled, the referee directed "mike" to have the skaters clear the ice. Don't mess with the protocol God.

The other time you get absolutely no choice or free will is if you get injured while skating. Shortly after first aid is applied a rink official with a clipboard will track you and your parent down and subject you to The Injury Debriefing. It seems to be a fairly standard and legalistic practice. During the process you will feel you are essentially being forced to indemnify the rink and show that you can manage safely the rest of the day by yourself. Sitting casually aside listening to a couple of these (not my injured kid) I've come to recognize this procedure is much more than rinkwash.

Most skaters get so pumped up with adrenaline during a competition that the effects of hormones completely mask their injury. They may have gotten an infection or be partially in shock and not even recognize it. The parents as well get roiled when their kid is injured. A large part of the Injury Debriefing is to assess the mental state of the skater and parent and to "talk them down:" have they descended yet from their adrenaline high and are they fully aware of what their injury might entail? The debrief gradually brings them back to earth, so the rink staff (and parent) can determine if more medical attention might be required. So if this unfortunate bind should befall you, please chill, and follow the protocol. The rink is looking out for you.

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