Outdoor rinks becoming obsolete, says University of Manitoba writer

A local writer says outdoor hockey was the greatest teacher a kid could have. Guillaume Lavallée/AFP/GettyImages

For many Canadians, the idea of playing hockey on an outdoor rink brings about strong waves of nostalgia.

For one local writer, however, the outdoor rink represents something more than just happy memories.

John Danakas, an executive at the University of Manitoba, told 680 CJOB that the outdoor rink was an important source of independence, education and imagination.

Danakas, who recently penned a column about the topic published in the Globe & Mail, said Monday that the rink was a key component of childhood that may be going away.

“I think a lot of us who grew up in Canada in that time would say that everything we needed to know in life, we learned on an outdoor hockey rink,” he said.

“No parents around at all, letting us play four to five hours at a time, no equipment except what we could figure out for ourselves. Boys and girls together, ages four to 14.”

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Danakas said he’s seeing other pursuits take the place of the idyllic rink among today’s youth, but that it’s not necessarily a bad thing – as long as upcoming generations can find their own place to exercise their imaginations and develop skills and relationships without necessarily having parents buzzing about.

“I certainly don’t want to be anybody who knocks young people today,” he said.

“I see fantastic and impressive people here at the University of Manitoba every day… but you’re missing something if you’re not able to experience the great outdoors and figure things out yourself without parents out there all the time with you.

“We used our imaginations to play the game. We learned how to play together. We learned leadership, teamwork, improvisation, adaptability, because we were on our own.

“I think everybody needs to find that space to be creative – that space to use their imagination, and the piece I wrote is a tribute to that time.

“I’m sure the kids these days will find their own space.”

WATCH: Skaters on St. Andrews community rink told to pay to use the ice

Click to play video: 'Skaters on St. Andrews community rink told to pay to use the ice'
Skaters on St. Andrews community rink told to pay to use the ice

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