We've all been cut from sports teams at some point in our lives. Sometimes it's a numbers game. Sometimes we're just not good enough.
In the end, we just suck it up, come to the realization that it wasn't meant to be and either move on to something else or work harder to make the team next time.
In the Greater Toronto Hockey League, however, when kids were cut from the local hockey team, the parents found it very difficult to swallow.
So much so that one situation now has lawyers involved.
Parents of two GTHL players are each suing the league, one of its clubs and four coaches for $25,000 because their sons were cut from a midget junior A team in April.
Having worked in youth sports in a former life, this kind of problem can be found in every sport. Every parent thinks their kid is the next Wayne Gretzky and when reality smacks them in the face, they cannot accept it.
But legal action, well, that's something pretty rare.
Vito Valela and David Longo are both suing on behalf of their sons, Christopher and Daniel respectively. Besides the GTHL, Avalanche Minor Sports president Anthony Iantorno as well as team officials Doriano Pistarelli, Andy Vandenberk, Felice Guglielmi and Peter Posca are named as defendants in the action.
"Their direct actions have caused irreparable psychological damage to Daniel Longo's self esteem as an impressionable teenager and demoralized Daniel as an athlete and team hockey player with his peers," the Longo statement of claim reads. "The conduct by all defendants destroyed the dignity of my son, whom in good conscience gave his team nothing but his best efforts."
Valela's statement of claim states: "When Christopher was advised of his termination by my wife and I, he vowed never to play the game he loved since childhood. And, morevoer, his misguided group of defendants demoralized my wife and I, whom had gone well beyond the call of duty as parents in support of the Toronto Avalanche hockey team for two seasons."
Valela's son quickly rescinded his vow of never playing again and signed with another team in the league.
In the statement of claim filed by Daniel Longo's father, he writes, "The conduct by all defendants destroyed the dignity of my son, whom in good conscience gave his team nothing but his best efforts."
I'm sure Daniel Longo did give his best - and it's from those genuine, honest efforts that his sense of dignity should arise, not from any actions by his coaches or hockey league. The only thing that truly threatens to destroy the boy's self-respect is his parents' bad example in making a federal case (or, in this case, a greedy civil suit) out of his failure to attain the goal they seem to so desperately want for him: a spot on the team. Well, that and their insistence on blaming someone else for the failure.
The league's defense is the obvious one in regards to a tryout: Over 70 players attempted to make the 17-man roster. There were going to be more than a few disappointed kids leaving the rink that day.
The parents claim that because the two coaches were currently under suspension for tampering (yes, tampering) last season, they weren't able to be behind the bench for these tryouts, something that the GTHL executive director Scott Oakman clarified saying that the rules allow them to run the tryouts.