A Lesson from the Hockey Rink
/ Author: Wayne Prins
/ Categories: Guide magazine /
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A Lesson from the Hockey Rink

In our daily interactions with others, do we honour the dignity of each other as fellow human beings regardless of our roles, context, mood, or setting?

By Wayne Prins, Executive Director 

It’s old news now, but many of you will remember Canada winning the World Junior Hockey Championship against Czechia back in January. For many Canadians, watching the tournament is an annual tradition during the Christmas season. Another gold medal was a great way to start the new year! 

I have another memory from the tournament that isn’t so positive but that offers an important lesson. It comes from the semifinal against the US. 

At the end of the game, three players from each team were recognized as the top three players, and each received a beautiful watch from tournament sponsor Tissot. When the US players were called to receive their reward, all three skated up and took the watch without a hint of a smile, without a word of thanks, and without even a glimpse of eye contact. The complete absence of even a shred of gratitude by these extraordinarily gifted young men, on display for an international TV audience no less, left me feeling both angry and sad.

You may think I should give these kids a break. After all, they just lost a tough game to their arch rivals. But in the context of sport, the complete absence of gratitude and their accompanying failure to even acknowledge the person handing them an award is simply not acceptable even in a moment of defeat.

I believe their behaviour is a symptom of a broader social dynamic that we all contend with in our daily lives. I’m not here to lecture about gratitude. My goal is to draw attention to daily opportunities we all have to demonstrate basic human decency toward one another in a spirit of human solidarity.

I feel badly for the Tissot representative. I don’t know where she had travelled from, and I know she was there representing a fairly large corporation, so the watches she was handing out were not at her expense. But she was visibly upset, or perhaps embarrassed, by the disregard shown to her by these ungrateful young men in such a public setting. I’m not suggesting she was made a victim, but it was certainly an undignified exchange. 

In our daily interactions with others, do we honour the dignity of each other as fellow human beings regardless of our roles, context, mood, or setting? Maybe this isn’t always on your mind, or perhaps you find it really hard to do when you feel like the world is working against you.

In the workplace, you may find yourself in a situation where things haven’t gone your way. Perhaps you brought it to your steward, and despite their best efforts, you didn’t get the outcome you hoped for.

It’s tempting to dismiss the efforts of your steward by ignoring them, not thanking them for their work on your behalf, or even lashing out angrily. But keep in mind this lesson from the hockey rink: the way we treat each other does matter. It reflects—either positively or negatively—our own character, and it impacts those around us.

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