I'm back at my laptop after spending the weekend attending the Lake Placid Sport Forum, a first-time conference to consider the troubled state of youth sports.
About two dozens of us were invited - a college hockey coach, three former U.S. Olympians, two orthopedic surgeons, a physical therapist, a sport psychologist, a radio talk-show host, two former NHL players and last, and perhaps least, six journalists, among others. For a couple of days, we sat around a large round table listening to each other's ideas about where sports for kids went off the tracks and coming up with a plan to do something about it.
Whether we've set the stage for a serious, ongoing effort remains to be seen. I felt privileged to be included.
A word about the organizers. Mara Smith, Lake Placid resident, sports performance consultant, had the idea to bring together a group to talk about a rescue plan for kids and sports. Mike Richter, part-time Lake Placid resident, Yale grad, father of youth hockey players, former New York Rangers goalie, got behind the idea and helped make it happen. Mark Messier, Richter's former Rangers teammate, attended and, like Richter, spoke eloquently throughout the sessions. The Aspen Institute provided support and a terrific moderator in Charlie Firestone.
The issues - how do you persuade parents that travel teams at age 8 actually can prevent kids from reaching their potential as athletes? - are complicated, bordering on intractable. I'm encouraged that 25 people are concerned enough to have spent a weekend talking about it.