What made Wayne Gretzky so great? New film argues against youth sports mania

The most surprising thing about Gabe Polsky’s new documentary, In Search of Greatness, is that the emerging director – and former Yale hockey player – is not even currently enmeshed in the sprawling system that becomes the film’s target. His first child, a son, was born over the summer; those first organized games, and the inevitable questions about “elite” travel teams and personal coaches that follow all too quickly, remain years away.

“I can imagine it must be so much worse now,” said Polsky, 39. “I’m almost sick to my stomach just thinking about it. But at root, the issue remains the same: Everybody thinks about being great, but nobody, most notably coaches, truly thinks about how to actually get there, and the paths we’ve created are not only wrong, they sap away all the things that could allow a young athlete to actually flourish.”

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