By George Newton | November 20, 2008

Nothing makes millions of parents happier than making their children fat and docile. Able to be easily over-powered and controlled. Stuck inside for endless play dates. Protected so well from nonexistent monsters that they are suffocating. Unable to play a simple game without an adult organizing it. Children who will never understand the love of the game unless they are allowed to play for themselves. Tommy Haines knows what today’s kids are missing. His engrossing documentary, “Pond Hockey,” shows how these problems have hurt the sport of hockey, and how some are trying to bring kids and fun back to the sport.

Think of the happiest time you had a child. Chances are it involved hanging out with your friends with no plans and no idea what the day would bring. Playing games for the fun of it instead of winning a scholarship. The men who take part in the 1st Annual Pond Hockey tournament remember these times well. Their words bring back our memories of a simpler time. A time most adults would give anything to relive again and again.

We live in a time when it seems many athletes are doing their best to make sports look bad. Complaining loudly about the few millions they are making, breaking laws and treating spouses badly, it’s easy to forget that sports can be a positive force. The pond hockey players in this film will never receive endorsements, but are much greater role models than those who do. They play not for money, but because they don’t know anything else that can give them that much pleasure.

The stories of playing pond hockey are the highlight of this film. Hockey greats such as Wayne Gretzky and Neal Broten speak of spending more time outside playing than inside doing everything else. They and many others are saddened when they hear how few are allowed the same joy. How will they ever learn to be their own person if others are always telling them what to do?

I’m not a sports guy. My dad took me to a few hockey games, but stopped when he realized I had no interest. This film is about more than just watching sports being played. Much of this film takes place at the 1st Annual Pond Hockey tournament, but it’s never very important who wins or loses. Just playing the game is reward enough. It may not be as enthralling as “Murderball” or “King of Kong,” but the players all have interesting stories to tell. You may have forgotten what childhood is about, but this film will remind you of memories that cannot be made sitting inside in front of electronics.

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