Dear Young Follower,

Preface to Dear Young Follower

I had a young follower reach out two nights ago with this message.

“Hii! Really really sorry to bother you at this time. But I just retweeted something and I think you should check it out.

It’s pretty sad so if you’re not feeling it it’s just fine or if you seen it that’s cool.

But I just thought that maybe an inspiration for an other article or something. Anyway sorry to bother u! Have a great night”

The video the young follower was referring to was from Eric Guest.

Guest’s courage to share his experiences in the game in have rocked the hockey world.

His story and experiences are truly heartbreaking.

This was my reply to the message after watching the video.

“Never apologize for reaching out when it comes to topics like this. Very sad situation.”

The young follower replied almost instantly.

“I know it got me crying.

I really hope seeing you write about this you’re too good of a writer not too.Anyway very very sad situation.”

At that point I had no idea what to type.

What do you say?

Here’s a young hockey player and person that loves the game so much.

I might have taken the easy way out, but I have been thinking about that conversation ever since.

This was my reply:

“I’ve written a lot about hockey culture, I don’t know Eric.

I can’t write something about him because I don’t know him, but I will definitely think of a few things.”

They replied:

“Oh yeah I totally understand that one.

I just thought of you when I watched that video.

So if ever you do write a new one about something like this I will totally read it.”

Dear Young Follower,

First of all, thank you for all the support and thinking of me when you saw Eric Guest’s video.

I’m sorry if I seemed short with my answers during my reply the other night. You see I may have written a lot about hockey culture in the past, but my experiences dealing with hockey culture pale in comparison to that of Eric’s, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t hurt.

When I watch Eric Guest’s videos, it makes me incredibly sad.

How could these horrific things ever happen to a young player or anyone in a game that we all love so much?

I’ve written a lot about my experiences dealing with hockey culture issues, but I’m reminded of something I always tell my students in my Grade 10 Personal Development and Career Planning class.

My message to them is very clear and concise.

“Everyone deserves to be happy.”

If you apply that statement to the game of hockey, dressing room culture, team dynamic and everything involving the game it definitely puts things in perspective.

Every player on a team needs to feel comfortable, safe and happy within a team dynamic.

Is that possible?

Hell no.

Cuts, Playing time, individuality, team hierarchy, player/coach relationship, how can every player on a team for that matter, be truly happy.

How can they feel happy when everything revolves around conformity?

How could anyone or everyone be happy when conforming to something that doesn’t seem right or what they believe in.

Everyone believes in winning, but that’s different than winning at all cost?

What price are you going to pay to win it all?

Would you jeopardize your own personal morals and beliefs so the team can win?

Sadly in the hockey world everything revolves around conformity.

You see right and wrong often disappear in the hockey world, hiding behind the code of silence which the hockey world and its culture unfortunately still cultivates.

I might be painting a very dark picture, but I’m just trying to be honest.

Hopefully we can all be has honest as Eric Guest when it comes to the brutality of hockey’s culture.

Eric’s courage is extraordinary. It’s truly inspirational.

It seems as players climb to the next rung in hockey’s ladder, hazing and hockey culture gets worse and worse.

We all have to play a part in changing the culture of the game we love.

We all have a role to play to shatter the code of silence, so everyone that plays the game feels accepted and part of the process of being a good team, a good person, a good teammate.

I love the game, but I hate the culture.

Thank you for inspiring me to action and share.

When we share, we all grow, we all learn.

Hockey can’t afford another scandal, but that’s exactly what it may need to once and for all topple it’s horrendous foundation built on the conformity and the code of silence.

We all need to come together, we can all make the game better so no one ever has to deal with the things Eric Guest and countless others have experienced.

In my opinion, the best way we can do that is by talking and speaking up.

When we do that we empower the bystander, but more importantly

we give a voice to the invisible; the victims of this sort of behaviour.

In closing I want to thank you for inspiring me to continue to write about and discuss this subject area.

I thought I had done enough, but it’s never enough when it comes to protecting all of the players that play our amazing game.

Yours in hockey,

Craig

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