As I sit here, typing this, my hockey career, such as it is, is dangling by the proverbial thread.
Since 9 am, I have only left my desk for one daring coffee run. Otherwise, I have been hitting refresh on Firefox over and over and over again: the target being the Ice Hockey enrolment page on the Icehouse website.
In fact, let’s call it by its full name for once: The Medibank Icehouse, because our home of hockey is performing in such an underwhelming manner right now that its sponsor should know about it.
The tension started a week or so ago when an email went out, alerting Melbourne’s ever-growing army of hockey players in training that the number of classes for Term One of this year had been slashed. No more Tuesday or Saturday classes. Huh? What?
Only one Intro for Adults on Wednesday night, plus one Intermediate, and then a couple of development league hours (the last of which starts at the helpful time of 11.15 pm, running until 12.15 am).
So basically, the several hundred hockey students are now fighting for one of maybe 30 spots in each of one Intro and one Intermediate class, and then one worknight-friendly Dev league timeslot.
Nice work, Medibank Icehouse. Way to try and kill the sport just as it gains momentum.
But now it gets better, because Monday (as in two days ago) was enrolment day, then that got pushed to yesterday and then to today. Which meant I, and most of my Hockey Rookie friends (going by the very entertaining and robust Facebook discussion that has been occurring for the past two hours) were at our desks or poised over other mobile devices, ready to hit ENROL at 9.00 am and one second.
Except that the Icehouse site didn’t change.
And then a message went up saying please don’t refresh the Hockey School page until after 10 am because of technical issues. And so we all bantered and sweated and hit Refresh endlessly until a new message went up at 10.30 am, saying please don’t hit refresh for 30 minutes.
And that was 10 minutes ago, and now I’m considering re-starting nail-biting, or taking up smoking, or sniffing glue or whatever else I need to do to ease this tension.
What if I’m not one of the 30 to hit ENROL in time to make it into Intermediate, or Dev League?
What if all my Rookie mates, in Intro and higher levels, are frozen out of the classes by this Icehouse dickheadness?
Why is it harder for us to pay good money to the Icehouse – allegedly the home of Australia’s winter Olympic sports – to keep learning our sport than it is to get falls Festival tickets?
We’ve all noticed for a while that hockey is taking a pounding by unsubtle must-try-to-make-money Icehouse initiatives. Something is clearly going on in the finance department there that has nothing to do with a commitment to the sport or the students who have swollen the Icehouse hockey classes over the last 12 months.
The word on the street is that Government funding has been withdrawn and the Icehouse owners (a Grollo company) are all-systems-go to raise revenue, not grow ice-based sports. Hence broomball, and ice tubing, and other novelty ice events, ahead of ice time for serious athletes (Yes, I’m including us in that category. Bite me.)
And so in half an hour, because of this crap management and decision-making at the venue, I might be frozen out of classes (pun intended). Or headed to Melbourne’s only other rink, at Oakleigh, to train with Melbourne Ice player Joey Hughes. Or charging Grollo HQ, covered in chicken blood and armed with a butter knife.
Anything is possible at this point.
I’m writing this post now, before I either get in, or don’t get in, to remember how freaked out everybody, including me, was as the wait continued (and a working day evaporated … and yes, I do actually have a lot to do. Thanks, Icehouse.)
The good news in all this? The Facebook banter between the brotherhood and sisterhood has been golden.
The bad news? The people in charge of providing rinks and education for us seem hell bent on ensuring we can’t take that bond onto the ice, where it belongs.
OK. Back to the Refresh …
LATE BREAKING NEWS: Finally got into the Icehouse system and booked my spots, and Will’s (aka Kittens). Intermediate and Dev League (unless somebody misses out and needs a spot). Crazy morning. Stupid Icehouse. But huzzah, we’re in! This blog will definitely benefit from not having me sitting on the sidelines, with no hockey.