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Remember when hockey was all about the game? Times have changed!

February 26, 2014   ·   0 Comments

Perhaps comedian Rodney Dangerfield said it best, “I went to a fight the other night, and a hockey game broke out!”

Recently locally and across the country, the behaviour of some hockey parents and fans in the stands is coming under a nation-wide blanket of scrutiny as poor sportsmanship is being exhibited unlike we’ve seen before reaching new lows and embarrassing highs.

The behaviour of the select few found behaving more like childish bullies can no longer be ignored as incidents escalate to potentially violent confrontations requiring police intervention. Suddenly, some hockey parents require police to “parent” and the game of hockey; a faint memory where once upon a time Canadian cities could proudly boast of a forum where the level of sportsmanship was second to none.

And what is the reason? There are many opinions and Shelburne has quite a few. Local hockey parents shared their thoughts on the matter.

Hockey mom, Karen Doiron commented, “This year the league took out contact in Peewee. I think referees are forgetting that and should be making more calls,”  further reflecting on the subject, “This gets parents frustrated.”

Hockey Mom, Jennifer Eggleton, shared her thoughts, commenting, “Refs should be paying more attention to what is going on. Kids are getting frustrated. I think referees should have to take refresher courses with every change in rules.”

Tom Doiron, hockey dad, couldn’t pin point one particular reason for the situation, “Well, it’s hockey and because it’s hockey, it’s the nature of the game. You don’t see that sort of behaviour in other sports,” Dorion mentioned that in all other sports involving kids Peewee age level, the anger and belligerent comments made by fans and parents never escalate to the degree hockey parents and fans in the stands reach. “I think some parents are living vicariously through their kids and get too involved, cheering bad behavior and aggression. It very unsportsmanlike. I don’t blame it on officials especially in the minor leagues – these refs are young and they are learning too.”

Assistant manager for visiting Peewee Team from Midland, Qamber Khawaja had a different take, commenting, “I think some parents have a lack of working knowledge about hockey and don’t really understand how the team is put together – coaches are trying to build a winning team. Some parents get so upset especially when line changes happen quickly and they feel their child deserves more ice time, every kid on the team is important, but that’s hockey.  It’s a game.”

Khawaja’s point is not wasted in theory. Even stars attending the Olympics for Team Canada had to sit while their team mates played and the parents of those players never exhibited bad behaviour, not even once!

Long time local sports enthusiast and hockey dad, Bill Gillam of Shelburne Home Hardware Building Centre was quick to point out the heart of the matter,

“You have to understand it’s a game. If you take the fun out of it, kids won’t want to play. Hockey is competitive, but there’s good competitive and bad competitive.”

Case in point, this past January, the NHL displayed one of the worst examples of sportsmanship while simultaneously giving the world a look into priorities of marketing the game and feeding the fans what they want in hockey entertainment. The Canucks vs Calgary game didn’t even begin with a puck dropping. At the very start, gloves came off, sticks flew, fists flamed and the fans went wild! Within the first two seconds of the game, 142 penalties, and 8 ejections happened. Reminiscent of a Gladiator fight in a Colosseum, the ‘Fans’ wanted that fight, loved the fight, relished the fight and be assured money was made in expectation of  fans filling the stands hoping to see more of the same sort of fiasco in future.

This kind of crowd mentality certainly filters all the way down through the entire industry and eventually finds its way into our local arenas and even though everyone may be of different opinions as to why it’s happening, everyone can agree the behaviour has to stop.

So what is the solution? It’s so simple. Everyone one in the country has to step up and do their jobs!

What does this mean? Since we cannot at present rely on the NHL to set the example of sportsmanship and maintain high standards of quality protecting our country’s beloved game of hockey and our impressionable youth, the major responsibility falls onto the shoulders of all hockey parents, nationwide. When Hockey parents do their jobs, they set the stage for future Sidney Crosby’s, responsible and respected future citizens of their community and the world. When parents rise above negative comments, and that means at home and away, they send a message by putting children above all else, reinforcing the idea they are examples of people who are admired in society for all the right reasons. Parents need to prove to kids they are actually parents who are adults and adults should never need to be parented by police during a sport for any reason. Remember Police are the good guys who catch bad guys-not parents at a hockey game- so smarten up! We can do better than that!

Shelburne’s Constable Paul Neumann commented, “Parents, coaches, and fans need to set an example of good sportsmanship. This behaviour is not the message to be sending our youth in hockey.”

When coaches do their jobs, the game becomes about the game. When referees do their jobs, (especially young referees still learning) the game takes priority without fear of retribution from an angry mob of parents. Humans make mistakes. Mistakes can be rectified, especially when adults remember they are adults.

With this proactive strategy, the domino effect will undoubtedly ensue but it will take a country’s collaborative effort and in short term – community to community support and commitment.

As a proud member of the community of Shelburne, the general consensus reported to me conveys the unanimous agreement that there has to be a positive change in the behaviour of hockey parents and fans across the board, locally and nationally. What could be better than Shelburne setting standards of excellence and sportsmanship by answering the most important question, “Have you got game?”

By Alex Sher

 

Patrick Dusome, Assistant Helper and Qamber Khawaja, Assistant Manager of Midland Peewee #3.

Patrick Dusome, Assistant Helper and Qamber Khawaja, Assistant Manager of Midland Peewee #3.

Hockey Dad, Tom Doiron

Hockey Dad, Tom Doiron

Brendan Mathews,11, Right Wing for Shelburne Wolves, Peewee Rep, Liam Mathews, 8, Goalie, Novice Rep for Shelburne Wolves, provide their impressions of fans and parents in the stands behaving badly.

Brendan Mathews,11, Right Wing for Shelburne Wolves, Peewee Rep, Liam Mathews, 8, Goalie, Novice Rep for Shelburne Wolves, provide their impressions of fans and parents in the stands behaving badly.

Patrick Baird 8, Novice Left Wing for Shelburne Wolves, and Raeburn Niedzwiecki, 8,  Right Wing Novice Rep, Shelburne Wolves, think angry parents and fans in the stands look like this!

Patrick Baird 8, Novice Left Wing for Shelburne Wolves, and Raeburn Niedzwiecki, 8, Right Wing Novice Rep, Shelburne Wolves, think angry parents and fans in the stands look like this!

Megan Woodhouse, 8, Left Winger, Novice Creemore Valley Hawks gives her impression of parents and fans in the stands with a bad attitude.

Megan Woodhouse, 8, Left Winger, Novice Creemore Valley Hawks gives her impression of parents and fans in the stands with a bad attitude.

Hockey moms Karen Doiron and Jennifer Eggleton

Hockey moms Karen Doiron and Jennifer Eggleton

         

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