Game Changers Reminds Us What’s Important About Youth Sports. | #sports | #elderly | #seniors
The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers reminds audiences there is more to youth sports than winning.
Warning: This article contains spoilers The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers Season 1, Episode 1, “Game On”, now streaming on Disney+.
The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers has released the first episode for streaming on Disney+ and features the return of Coach Bombay. Things look different now than they did in the 1990s when the original film trilogy premiered. The Ducks started as a scrappy team pulled together by the love for the game and team effort. Now, the Mighty Ducks are a minor hockey dynasty and cutting players who aren’t necessarily future NHL superstars. The pilot episode serves to remind audiences what is actually important about youth sports — fun. In response to being cut from the Mighty Ducks, Evan Morrow and his mom Alex make their own team for people who want to have fun and play hockey.
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The episode explores how youth sports have evolved since the original film trilogy. There’s now an emphasis on creating superstars instead of fostering good values in young athletes. At the first Ducks practice of the year, the parents in the stands have comprehensive snack schedules bring professional sports psychologists for their kids who are ages 12 to 14. The coach actually says if they can’t be the best player, they might as well not bother to play the game at all. There is no talk about values that can be learned and developed when playing on a team. Alex actually goes on a big rant that goes viral when she calls out this intense pressure.
Later in the episode, when Evan is recruiting for their new team — The Don’t Bothers — he calls out his former teammates for being more obsessed with perfection than being good teammates. He then recruits new players by creating an environment that encourages fun, teamwork and making new friends. The team consists of outcasts whose primary connection is that they aren’t accepted anywhere else.
Some players on the new team are social outcasts at school, and some of them, like Evan and his neighbor Nick, both love the game but aren’t considered good enough to play. Nick actually says that he was driven out of the game by people who made him believe that there was no point in playing because he isn’t a great player. Driving away passionate youth is a real shame and a loss to the game as a whole. Youth sports shouldn’t be about being good enough, it should be about getting active, making friends and having fun.
The Mighty Ducks used to be the team to take in the unconventional players, but the organization has developed into everything they previously worked so hard to overcome. Bombay recruited figure skaters and kids who couldn’t skate because he saw a unique potential in them that would elevate the team beyond the conventional methods of success. This helped teach his players compassion and team unity, an ideology lost in the newest generation of Mighty Ducks.
The first episode of the new Disney+ series, The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, reminds audiences what is actually important about youth sports. The point of playing a team sport is to learn teamwork, stay physically active and, most importantly, have fun. Hockey should not exclusively be for future professional athletes, but an open community to anyone who loves the game and wants the chance to play it. As the series progresses, it seems likely it will continue to emphasize the values hockey can instill in youth players regardless of the actual results on the scoreboard. Maybe this ragtag gang of outcasts will be able to pull off a couple of wins on their way to building a more inclusive place in hockey.
The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers stars Lauren Graham, Emilio Estevez, Brady Noon, Maxwell Simkins, Swayam Bhatia, Luke Islam, Kiefer O’Reilly, Taegen Burns, Bella Higginbotham, and DJ Watts. The series premieres Friday, March 26 on Disney+.
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