What Naysayers Have In Common

THE FREE Dictionary defines “naysay” as “To oppose, deny, or take a pessimistic or negative view of…”

Ya, that about does it for me, because I’m mainly talking about those who take a pessimistic or negative view about something, most of the time with an argument that is so far off base it makes the naysayer look foolish.

Okay, so I always try to make it a point to let my friends know what set me off lately.  (I also always promise that posts here aren’t totally about my profession, but also about work experiences in general.)  For this one it’s easy, though, if you’ll allow me to explain a little history…

After experiencing what I’d gone through with the demise of the Tropical Elite Hockey League, I spent plenty of time reflecting on the whole affair.  I’m not talking about sulking, however, because I’d done enough of that in the first month or so after I was left stranded here in Florida.

What I got kinda psyched about were the things I learned during the TEHL’s brief existence.  For sure, I’d seen plenty of things done wrongly, but that was actually good — I mean seeing what didn’t work, and then coming up with remedies I sensed would.  Actually, I knew in my heart that I could have saved the league had I been given the chance to replace the — take your pick:  either inept or corrupt — league commissioner.

What non-hockey or non-Junior level folks should know is that there are few Junior teams across the US that don’t charge their players to play.  In other words, they work a lot like youth hockey, whereby the players pay for the opportunity to play.

And, make no mistake about it, teams in pay-to-play leagues live or die on having full rosters.  Operating costs are high for running a Junior hockey program — what with the practice and game ice costs, long distance travel expenses, equipment, front office and coaching salaries, and much, much more.

Actually, I’d done better than any other TEHL GM/coach when it came to recruiting, but I still didn’t come close to a full roster.  The problem, at least as I saw it, was that the players were out there — somewhere, I and the other league teams needed more players, but I’ll be darned if we ever got to connect.

The latter was one reason I decided last fall to form the Junior Hockey Scouting Service.  I’d gather tons of young guys interested in playing Junior hockey, and then I’d connect them with teams in need of players.

Junior Hockey Scouting ServiceThe second part of the equation had to do with deciding which side should pay for the service.  And I believe my decision was a first for this kind of service, because I allowed the players to enroll for free.  I further reasoned that a paying player was worth a lot to a team in need, usually representing at least $8000 (in tuition) per player.

I wouldn’t make teams pay per player, though.  Actually, I arranged a far better deal that’s so low it’s almost a no-brainer.

Okay, so now that you have the gist of how things work with my JHSS, I’ll leave it at that and get on to those naysayers.

Well, as I so often do, a few weeks ago I mentioned the JHSS in a few social media posts.  Suddenly, I get kind of a punch in the ear by a young guy on Twitter.  His gripe was that I was trying to pull young high school kids away from home.  ???  I tried to explain that that wasn’t my aim, and I wished that I could have explained better within Twitter’s “140 Rule” how I actually turned away a couple of star players at the TEHL tryout camp.  Yup.  As good as they were, I told their parents that I preferred they go back home and finish their last 2-years of high school before returning to see me.

This aside…  First, I advertise the JHSS to all Junior eligible players, which means it’s open to guys from 16- through 20-years old, just as dictated by the two ruling hockey federations.  Secondly, I’m not about to tell players and parents what they can and can’t do, as long as the kids are eligible.

As it turned out, the couple of young, future stars I mentioned earlier — and turned away — just went and found another Junior team.  Grrrrrrrrr…  So much for good intentions, huh?

The young Twitter naysayer didn’t give up, though, and I sensed he was attempting to embarrass me and my program in front of his handful of followers (it’s true, that few hockey people were even following the guy, which suggested to me the amount of clout he actually had).  Stay tuned, however, and I’ll tell you more about that jerk a little later.

Now, you have to understand that I spend a lot of time in social media; that’s a big part of what I do.  And, while I tweet and post about a lot of different topics — including the escapades of my little pooch, Raggs, I generally let friends know about the JHSS a couple of times per day.  That in mind, I felt those posts had been pretty well received when only one other naysayer muddied my Twitter stream the other day.

Ya, it was another shot in my ear, with this guy announcing to the world that, “There are too many Junior teams!”  (Obviously not a rocket scientist, that’s something I’ve read a few times in articles penned by other Pessimistic Petes.)

What does one say to that, because I have my feelings on the subject — and it’s just an opinion, while he’d be hard pressed to really defend his stance, either.  What the guy really meant was that, he feels there aren’t enough great players to fill all the teams in existence.

Oh, boy, do I have some feelings when it comes to that one…  You see, humans mature at drastically different rates, which means that a late bloomer at one point could ultimately out shine a lot of previously noteworthy players.  In fact, with what we know about the sciences nowadays, a kid who suddenly gets motivated can, given a little time, blow right by the player who supposedly has all the talent.

Knowing that numbskull is from the Boston area, I pointed out the story of Daniel Nava, who is currently starring with the Boston Red Sox.  By all rights, Nava should be paying his way into pro baseball games, because just a few years ago he was buried on a who-cares, low, low minor league team.  Nava just wouldn’t quit, however, someone within the Red Sox organization gave him a chance, and the rest is becoming basball history.  Actually, though, Nava wasn’t even an instant hit in the Red Sox system, experiencing a few highs and enough lows to make most guys quit.  He wouldn’t quit, however, but instead kept working his butt off until he was able this spring to earn a regular spot on the Sox’ Major League roster.  And, he’s not just hanging on by his thumbs, but instead having Boston-area fans saying he deserves to make the American League All-star team.  Amazing, huh?

Of course, the latest naysayer tweeted something to the effect that Nava is a one-in-a-million story.  My feeling?  I’m in the game for the sake of guys like Nava, and it’s stories like that one that keep me feeling that a lot of players deserve a chance to hang on a little longer, to get a little more good coaching, and to give their bodies and minds a chance to mature just a little bit more.

Naysayer Number Two and I went back and forth exchanging insults for even longer than did Number One and I.

I always get a kick out of guys who use as their argument things that are totally unrelated and really off the wall.  This guy evidently thought name dropping gave his case more validity, but I laughed and thought to myself that I probably taught or coached the guys he looks up to.  At the least, they’ve probably followed my writings.

Before leaving this dummy, I feel the need to even better explain our disagreement, as well as some of what I said just a while ago…

He seems to feel as though a kid who doesn’t show some real promise at maybe 18-ish years old should be told so, and sent home to play in some adult rec league.  I, on the other hand, have that “players mature at different times” mentality, and I’m always willing to give a good kid just one more chance.

Okay, so I’ve promised to share with you my thoughts on the things the typical naysayers have in common.  In other words, why would someone take the time or expend the energy to argue a given point — in public, no less?

Of course, you and I probably see lots of posts travel through our streams that cause us to shake our heads.  Most of the time we dismiss them with a mumbled expletive, and most often decide that an argument isn’t worth the effort.

That’s why I’ve come to realize that there has to be a real driving force behind anyone who ultimately chooses to engage in a negative way.  I have to think that there’s a selfish reason they’re doing it, too, and I’ve hardly ever been disappointed with that one.

This line of thinking goes way back to my earliest years in coaching…  I mean, back as far as the late-1970’s and long before the JHSS came along, I was pioneering new training methods, promoting some new scientific principles, selling hockey books or training manuals, and even getting word out about a new hockey training invention.  Ya, those were times when naysayers seemed to come out of the woodwork.  And those were also the times when I started seeing a connection.

As an example…  When I returned from Moscow of the old USSR, I was psyched to show hockey folks around New England new and better ways to train, and most often without even needing costly ice-time.  Those who listened to me got to discover — probably 15-years in advance of others — how to use plyometrics and how to get faster with over-speed training.  As I hinted at above, though, there certainly were detractors — and how.  Why?  Hmmmmmm…

The sale of my “You Can Teach A Basic Hockey System” manual was another one that caused quite a stir.  The digital version hit the market at about the same time USA Hockey put forth their ADM Program.  A number of youth coaches started screaming bloody blue murder that I’d encourage the teaching of X’s and O’s to young players.  At this point, some readers might believe the naysaying should have been expected, in that my manual does go against prevailing USA Hockey preachings.  On the other hand, I’m going to ultimately suggest something quite different.

Once the in-line craze hit North America, I unveiled some things I’d already been doing behind the scenes with some of my students.  It was awesome, really, knowing that most hockey players could suddenly have access to a new tool that promised some gains even beyond what could be done on the ice.  Enter the naysayers, however.  And, even though I explained how certain negative training effects could be avoided with slight adaptations to training, the boo-birds persisted and persisted.  Why?  Ugh…

Then, you should have heard the screaming when my invention, the Skater’s Rhythm-bar, started selling around the world.  Wow.  Guys and gals who hadn’t a clue about the sciences claimed it went against all that was known about skating mechanics.  The fact is, that device is totally based on what’s known about skating.  Newton’s Laws are involved, as are the studies by numerous PhDs who make a living analyzing physical movements.  Yet, there were pert, little former figure skaters and telephone linemen — who moonlighted as “powerskating coaches” — telling anyone who would listen that the Rhythm-bar would hurt a player’s stride.  Why?  Geeeeeeeeeze…

What I ultimately realized was that guys (and gals) with their own very strong agendas were nearly always the culprits when it came to beating down a good idea.  As a matter of fact, I don’t think I ever met a naysayer who wasn’t thinking about his or her pocketbook, first and foremost.  They weren’t thinking about kids, and they weren’t thinking at all about the betterment of our game.  No, almost everything I encountered from those Negative Nellies came from pure selfishness.

In reference to the downing of my training manual, a few guys knocked it because they had their own books or videos on the market.  Not all of the pooh-poohers were thinking about their pocketbooks, however.  Naw, a number of them had found safety within the ADM program, which quite nicely makes it possible for any idiot to conduct something at least close to an effective practice.  So again, those guys weren’t concerned so much about financial gains as they were in preserving a system of “teaching” that required them to do little more than toss a puck out onto the ice.

In most instances, egos also came into play when the handfuls of negative feedback came my way.  I can’ blame the likes of noted powerskating instructors for having their noses out of joint as I began gaining some attention.  For sure, they didn’t want their students looking to off-ice training if all they knew about was on-ice stuff.  I’m guessing they were also panicking that my Skater’s Rhythm-bar was going to render a lot of their teachings as archaic.

And this all brings me back to a grand total of two Twitter members who want to tell the world that there’s something evil about my Junior Hockey Scouting Service.  Hmmmmmm…  I see only a couple of possible answers to this one:  that they are totally right, or that they have a hidden agenda — be it ego- or money-related.  Again, hmmmm…

Naysayer One’s concerns for young kids leaving home might seem innocent enough on the surface; and don’t forget that I kinda agree with that.  Still, he did “protesteth tooooo much” after our initial exchange, and that’s a dead giveaway to me, that there is a very strong agenda lurking in the background.  About all I could discover is that he’s a high school hockey coach in Massachusetts, which leads me to believe he’s probably seen his team lose some good players to Junior hockey.  Where that might suggest his ego was in play, a closer look at his profile shows that he’s also involved in something pretty close to Junior hockey, suggesting to me that his purse might also be taking a hit.  As a matter of fact, I can sense from his bio that it would likely hurt both his ego and his wallet if Junior hockey teams lured players away.

Now, I didn’t have the time to check further but, I found it very interesting that Naysayer Two works in the same vicinity as Number One, right around the north-of-Boston area.  So, are they connected?  No matter, that guy showed his true colors by suggesting that no kids deserve the chance to extend their careers longer if they’re not ready by some arbitrary date.  Of course, his name dropping and other spoutings tell me the ego was a huge factor in his stance.  As for the pocketbook issue, can you believe that guy told me I’m only running the JHSS for the money?  Jeepers, I’m hoping anyone reading this gets paid for what he or she does.  Better yet, since that guy is supposedly a high profile coach, I wish I had the time to ask if he is getting paid to do that job?  (Sometimes guys say stupid things just to hear themselves talk.  :/ )

Oh, that last guy did let his hair down at one point, moaning something about all the work it takes to sort through talent and assemble a team.  Surprise, surprise, huh?  And that brings me to one other reason a naysayer might do what he or she does…  Laziness is what I’m talking about here.  God, it is hard work putting together a new team each year.  And, while I might sympathize, I’m not about to sacrifice any teen players just to make his job easier.  Nor am I going to tell a community that might be willing to support a Junior team that there are already too many teams out there looking to help kids advance in the game.

So there you have it, Coach Chic’s theory on why naysayers do what they do, or the few traits they typically have in common — from concerns for money to fragile egos to a tad bit of laziness to the distinct possibility they’re kinda stupid.

All we can do is keep plodding along, keep dealing with folks as honestly as we can, and keep hoping that we have more friends than naysayers when all is said and done.

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