My two daughters have been ice skating from an early age. The first thing to know about this sport–I want to call it a hobby or activity–is that it’s terribly expensive. Ice time is not cheap, because maintaining an unnatural ice pond is an expensive proposition. But it’s only, and please pardon the expression, the tip of the iceberg.
The pathway into ice skating is harmless enough. A little kid–almost always a girl–puts on a pair of ice skates and, once she gets past initial frustration of not being able to stay on her feet for very long, decides that she likes the sensation of gliding around on the ice. It’s been likened to flying, and I can understand why somebody might want to experience that. I’m sure it beats walking around on dry land.
But in order to skate, you need skates on your feet. That’s expense #1. From there, it only gets worse: ice time, coaches’ fees, time and gas needed for endless trips to the ice rink, membership dues, costumes for performances, and others I’m trying to forget about right now. And today–which was possibly the final straw for me–there was a $25 fee to watch a competition that my older daughter was entered in (after paying another $5 to park the car at the arena, of course). Finally, after all these years, I’ve had enough.
I didn’t pay the money to get in, and now I’m sitting in a parking lot, typing this into my cellphone keypad instead. And I have some hard-won advice for anyone with kids, especially young girls: don’t do this. If your young daughter ever wants to try this out, take her to a movie instead. Spend an afternoon walking around in a museum. Watch a basketball game on TV and explain the fine art of the pick-and-roll. Do what you have to do to direct your little one away from this ridiculous sport.
The dirtiest secret of all about ice skating is that it’s entirely subjective. In baseball, you score more runs than the other team and you win the game. In bowling, you knock down more pins than anyone else, and you’re the winner. But skating isn’t like that at all. It’s all about the judges’ opinions. It’s no way to determine who’s good better than anyone else. Olympic scandals have come from this human element.
Am I bitter about this sport? Clearly I am. Many years of personal investment–both in money and in time–have led me to this moment. So I say to you, gentle reader, keep your kids off the ice until they’re past the age of wanting to skate–seven or eight should be old enough–and be glad that you read this post. Consider this my own public service announcement to you.