Beer league is full of characters. You’ve got the hot head, the shy guy, the girl with the wicked edges, the goalie who only plays well halfway to hammered, the guy who plays three levels down, puts up all the goals and two-thirds of the assists.
It is this guy, the ringer, who is our subject today, and in reference to him, I pose this question:
Is dealing with sandbaggers a rite of passage for developmental players? A burden? A wonderful challenge? Something else?
There’s nothing quite like working hard, taking lessons, going to clinics, renting ice with your teammates to practice and then having some guy with no shoulder pads deke around the entire team, pass to himself off of his skate and drill an impossible angle shot off the turnbuckle and down for the score. Oh yeah, and then celebrates like it’s the playoffs after every single. goal.
I’m always left asking “Who even does that? They must know it’s not a huge achievement!” It’s like an English professor showing up to an elementary spelling bee and then being proud they can spell “scissors” correctly, or maybe if I decided to challenge an amateur cellist for their chair in community orchestra. Just the thought is laughable- but is that all there is to it?
I started the conversation by talking with some friends who also play D and C League hockey, and I hope you’ll join us in the comments!
CompSci maven Jen: “All of us in beer league are objectively terrible at hockey […] way to take the fun out of a thing that exists for no reason other than to be fun.”
West Point grad Jason: “We had this unbelievably good ringer in our league. He never lost the puck, could make crazy passes and score at will. So we asked around and it turns out he was a recent college grad that had spent 10-plus years playing high-level youth hockey around the country. You would think we would be mad, but when we realized his parents must have spent tens of thousands of dollars on ice time, equipment, travel, hotels and so on, only to have him be able to dangle around 40+ year old fat guys after midnight on a weeknight, we kinda felt sorry for him.”
Realtor David: “I actually don’t mind playing against a team who has a ringer or two so long as the ringers generally respect the level of play. I enjoy a challenge and playing against people who are better than you is an amazing learning experience. […] People who skate circles around everyone [who are] the deciding factor between winning or losing is wrong, and I have little respect for the ringer or the team itself. I feel bad that their team isn’t confident enough in their bond to skate hard together and win lose or draw be happy with the outcome and that everyone was out there doing their best and having fun.”
Content dev Tabitha: “In the end, it’s an issue of respect for the game. You can be a ringer, play down, and play respectfully of other players on the ice. Whether that means playing to the level at hand, balancing the skill level using smarter passes and perception up ice, or simply avoiding the heads-down, no-pass drop-in style of play we all know them for, it all comes back to respect. This includes respect for the other players (including abilities, weaknesses and well being), the officials, visiting families, and for the sacrifices we all make to be here each week.”
Well said. What do you think?
Amazing Hockey Hello Kitty from a Chicago Now piece on the same subject!