In the first 61 days of 2023, I announced (via either play-by-play or public address) 63 games.

There won’t be a game for me again until the Hermantown Hawks hit the ice at Xcel Energy Center on Wednesday. My struggling voice could not be more appreciative of the break.

Sure, I’ll have some speaking engagements prior to Wednesday. I have the radio show on the weekend, and I conduct interviews for a large portion of my “day job.” Yet overall, there will be plenty of stretches where not using my voice will not only be an option, but the best option.

Keeping quiet – what a concept! I’ll pause while anyone who knows me fights back laughter at the thought of me trying. Believe it or not, I can do it – just not usually for as long as I hoped.

With all the recent “noise” regarding prep hockey, I promised myself (just last Friday) I wouldn’t weigh in on such a hot topic. I told myself the emotional energy wasn’t worth it. Those who are loudest about it are either fueled by hate or think their favorite team is immune to criticism.

Since I feel the truth is somewhere in between, I’m going to break my promise and weigh in -- but by telling all of you exactly what I told myself: Don’t waste your time. It’s just not worth it.

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I’m not trying to rob you of your opinion or tell you it’s wrong. Obviously, I have opinions too, which is how my weekly column exists. I can’t say all my opinions are well-received. I can say I wish some things were different in prep sports. Yet that’s not up to me, nor the student-athletes. It’s certainly not worth losing my mind or any of the little sleep I get these days. It’s better to appreciate the time and effort the kids put into every season.

To be completely honest and take it one step further: In most games I’ve worked in my career, I’ve likely wanted one team to win more than another. However, there’s a time and place to share that opinion – if at all. Due to the impact an opinion can specifically have on kids, it seems we all need to be a little more cautious about sharing. Social media entices us to share. Can we dare stay silent?

Silence does not mean complicit when it comes to prep sports, silence means maturation.

I fully understand how deep Minnesota prep rivalries run long after graduation. Sometimes I feel I’m in a strange spot, being a Duluth East graduate who now provides positive radio coverage for rival schools. Yet, I’m an adult, and these athletes are kids. It’s a different world. I don’t need to go crazy if a team who isn’t my favorite wins, but I surely don’t need to tear them down either. Being civilized as an adult is not difficult.

The challenge comes from the mantra: “I went to (insert school here), so I’ll NEVER cheer for (insert school here).” That’s fine. I understand. Nobody’s asking you to cheer for anybody. I’m asking, why do you need to cheer against kids? Would you run up to an athlete from the school you’d never cheer for just to say that? Is it truly important for you to make a similar comment on social media?

This was a difficult piece for me to write. I’m certainly not an “everybody’s a winner” type, and absolutely despise those who exhaust themselves finding an angle to be a victim. I’m not even the type who says kids should only experience positivity, be constantly uplifted, or take the easy path whenever possible. Life doesn’t work that way. Tough lessons should be learned, challenges accepted, and kids should be supported through them.

Yet, adults putting kids “on blast” for things they don’t control should not be a lesson. That needs to be fixed. Again, my answer is simple: Let those affiliated have their moment -- and keep your opinion to yourself.

Your favorite team has been eliminated and you don’t want their rival to win? Cool – keep it to yourself.

The rival team lost and you’re happy? Cool – keep it to yourself. They won and you’re angry? Same idea.

If you’re still reading, maybe you’re screaming that I’m a hypocrite. How can I say so much, but have my main point ask others to say nothing? Maybe you’re thinking of last week’s column, where Dad taught me to “care about it,” and now I’m begging everyone not to care so much.

Wishing things were different is human nature. In prep hockey, nobody is breaking any rules, so you can wish in one hand, and you know what in the other all you want.

Let the kids play. It’s really that simple. Think of what those words meant in 2020 at the height of a pandemic. Now they’re playing, yet it’s being wrecked in a different way. Enjoy the games and end the war of words. Nobody’s winning. Kids are better at technology and social media than we are – they’re the ones seeing this even if it’s intended for other adults.

Adults kicking and screaming about the outcomes of kids’ games is simply not a good look on either side, and it’s gone on far too long.

For once I can be “proud” of my downfalls. Born with Cerebral Palsy, I assure you I can’t kick. With the current state of my voice – no screaming for a while either.

Until the first goal Wednesday anyway.

Brian's show, 'The Northland Sports Page', can be heard Saturdays from 10 am to noon on the FAN 106.5 FM/560 AM. You can catch previous episodes on the Northland FAN On-Demand area of our website or on our mobile app.

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