There was a time in minor hockey when parents
were hardly ever a factor in the sport. Games and practices were conducted
on cold, windy outdoor rinks that were often within walking distance from
home. When parents did show up to watch, they were standing knee deep in
snow beside the boards, more interested in keeping warm and hoping that
the game would soon end than in what was happening on the ice.
we started to play more and more games at indoor arenas with heaters and
comfortable bleachers. Parents began to use the game to socialize with
friends and neighbors. There still wasn’t much involvement from the
stands. Parents pretty much allowed the coach to deal with the hockey
program and kept to themselves.
overnight, without warning, we found ourselves in the middle of an
epidemic. All of a sudden parents were very much involved, not only in the
manner in which they cheered their own children on during the game, but
also in the manner in which they voiced their criticism of officials,
coaches and opposing players. Many
people are of the opinion that the situation is now out of control.
Parents are interfering so much that we are having difficulty attracting
and keeping officials; good coaches are no longer willing to accept the
abuse from parents and are being replaced by people who have a hidden
agenda or who themselves are very angry persons; physical altercations
between parents and coaches are making headlines; and low and behold,
parents are actually being expelled from arenas. What happened?
are many theories to explain why the situation has accelerated to the
point where a company such as ours, Hockey Consultants International, will
have no trouble finding hockey associations which are willing to hire us
to help them sort out the “mess” they find themselves in with their
hockey program. While it is not our intention to examine these theories in
depth in this book, it is important to be aware of some of the possible
causes of this epidemic. Without having some idea of the causes of this
situation, it will be difficult to arrive at a solution.
IT’S NOT EASY BEING A PARENT TODAY
Today, there are far more parents who are
going out of their way to “get involved” in the things their children
are doing. This is not just with respect to hockey. In “the old days”, parents were too busy taking care of a
large family and working to put food on the table and a roof over their
head. If the kids wanted to play, then the kids were allowed to play and
do their own thing. Without the timesaving conveniences such as microwave
ovens and snow blowers, it took a lot more time to take care of everyday
responsibilities. Parents often did not have time to waste sitting in the
stands “watching” their children play games.
Today, however, all that has changed. Young
parents have been told that if they want to be good parents they must
spend quality time with their children and show a sincere interest in what
they are doing. Hence, with both parents working to make ends meet and to
be able to afford all of the timesaving conveniences that their own
parents did not have, they now have time to run around acting as
spectators and encouraging their children. We are also encountering a
“time-warp” generation that is attempting to squeeze the maximum
return from every single minute in the day. Parents who feel that their
children are being short-changed on ice-time allocation; being “picked
on by other players”; or being victimized by poor referees, are more apt
to shout out their displeasure instead of simply sitting there taking it.
The stress level among parents is not that
hard to identify in the stands. When you really look closely, you begin to
feel a little bit of empathy for many parents who are “forced to be in
the stands” because of societal pressure. They do not want to be there.
They feel that they are wasting their time and that they could be doing so
many other worthwhile things instead of suffering through another hockey
game. It doesn’t take much to make them snap. And if they snap at
someone else who is feeling the same way, the results can be disastrous.
Keeping up with the ‘Joneses’ has become a
national obsession in modern times, and this is having an impact on the
attitude in the stands. Not only do we see parents trying to have the best
automobile; the best house; the best clothes; the best job; but now they
also want to have the “best kid”. Living vicariously through their
children doesn’t just mean that some parents are trying to make up for
their own frustrations and limitations when they were young. For many
parents, it is a matter of status.
To have a child who is not one of the best
players on the team is embarrassing to the family. As a result, we see
parents who are extremely hard on their children, constantly shouting
directions and demonstrating utter disappointment when mistakes are made.
Just watch the faces of parents in the stands. You don’t have to watch
the game long at all to identify the parents of the children who are not
the stars of the team. They will make faces, hold their hands over their
eyes, turn away from the action, throw up their hands in frustration, or
simply look extremely angry. Unfortunately, these parents are completely
unaware of the fact that their children can see them as well.
Modern day parents are also much more
protective of their children than our ancestors were. If an opponent hits
their child too hard; or if a coach yells at their child; or if a referee
calls a penalty against their child, there is likely going to be some sort
of defensive action taken. Parents today really have difficulty allowing
their children to fend for themselves. We are also living in a very
“legal society” where everyone is a lawyer. It doesn’t matter if
their child is guilty, the parent still feels obligated to defend the
action. It’s just the thing to do.
We also live in an era where parents are very
critical of any other professional or authority figure. This is a societal
problem, but it spills over into the arena. During the 50’s and 60’s
there was a tremendous economic explosion. People could pretty well select
whatever job they wanted and the hiring standards were lowered because of
the shortage of workers. As a result, there were many people hired as
teachers, police officers and managers who were not cut out for the job.
Now don’t get me wrong, there were many, many good teachers, police
officers and managers. After all I was a teacher hired in the early 70’s
so we couldn’t be all bad. But there were many who were brutally
incompetent, and dragged the image and reputation of their profession
down. The people who had to deal with these incompetent professionals are
now parents with children. And as parents they are very critical of
coaches and referees who represent authority figures who are trying to
exercise control over them and over their child. Unions and lawyers have
become very popular during the past 30 or 40 years mainly because of the
need to confront the authority figures that abused their positions of
power. So it should come as no surprise that parents are abusive to
referees who are administering the rules of the game in which their
children are involved. This is not to say that they are right to verbally
abuse the officials. It’s just that most parents don’t realize what
they are doing until it is too late. It is merely a reflex reaction.
Another reason why we are witnessing such an
increase in problems from the stands is that there are so many people
involved in negative behaviour.
When one parent in the stands is abusive, it isn’t so bad.
Usually, this parent will regain his composure and things will get back to
normal. However, the next time something happens on the ice, if another
one or two parents join with that first parent, you now have three people
yelling. Before you know it, the kind, good-natured gentleman who
wouldn’t harm a fly, is caught up in the emotions that are exploding
around him. When others cheer, he cheers. When others yell at the referee,
he feels that he should yell at the referee too. It only takes one person
to start an epidemic that before long spreads to the whole crowd.
A REALITY CHECK FOR MOST PARENTS
- YOUR CHILD IS NOT GOING TO BE A PRO!
The first thing a parent should accept is that
there is very little chance of his or her child ever making a professional
career out of hockey. With approximately 900 players signed to contracts
in the National Hockey League and millions of amateur hockey players
around the world, all with the same lofty dreams of making it to the big
leagues, the odds against any one individual making it to the NHL are
This doesn’t mean that you should discourage
your child from playing hockey. It just means that you have to keep things
in perspective and realize that it is only a game. Help your child enjoy
the game of hockey and enjoy the development of skills for the sheer
purpose of having fun. Be supportive and encouraging, but keep the focus
on realistic goals.
Certainly, there will be some players who
shine above the rest. After all, Walter Gretzky was a parent too. When he
saw Wayne playing as a 12 and 13 year old, it was clear that there was
something special there. If your child is another Wayne Gretzky, then
great. But chances are your child will just be another player who wants to
enjoy the game. Let him have fun.
PLACE UNDUE PRESSURE ON YOUR CHILD
game of hockey should be a source of fun and enjoyment for a child.
However, some well-meaning parents actually place a great deal of pressure
on their children without even being fully aware of the impact of their
thing some parents, and grandparents, do to motivate their children is
offer to pay them money for getting goals and assists. Some even go as far
as paying their child for every penalty in order to motivate them to
become more aggressive. There is absolutely no need to try and motivate
your child by paying him a dollar for a goal and a nickel for an assist.
Especially don’t pay your child for receiving penalties. Paying
money for goals and assists actually discourages team play and forces the
child to focus on the wrong priorities during the game.
even if it is meant to be constructive, after the game during the car ride
home, only adds pressure to the child for the next game. Hockey is a
difficult game to master because of the speed and the contact. No one, not
even Wayne Gretzky comes even close to perfection. Telling a 10-year old
four things to work on for the next game will do nothing for him except
confuse him even more.
the other hand, talking about the good things he did, even if they were
few and far between, will do wonders for the child. Show your support by
downplaying the mistakes. If your child brings up a mistake, quickly
change the topic and talk about a good thing that you noticed. If you
begin making a sincere effort to focus on three or four of these good
plays during each ride home, it will also affect the way you watch the
game in the first place.
is only natural to notice the mistakes we make in life. During some of our
seminars we conduct a simple experiment with our audience. We place an
overhead projection on the screen and ask the people to read it to
themselves. In the text, we deliberately make a noticeable spelling
mistake. It doesn’t usually take very long before someone puts up his
hand and points out the mistake. Upon that cue we enter into the lesson
about how human beings are experts at pointing out mistakes that have been
made by others. We then enter into a brief discussion about how this is
not just a sign of a person’s lack of confidence, but also a reflection
of what our culture has imbedded into us through television. The most
popular shows are about putting people down and pointing out their
imperfections. We merely incorporate this into our everyday life and have
become very skilled at pointing out mistakes that are made by others.
go on to point out that in some sectors of life, making one mistake can be
critical. For example, I certainly want my pharmacist or my surgeon to be
perfect at al times. I want a musical composition to be perfect, with
every note in its proper place. But is it necessary for a 10-year-old
child to be perfect in hockey? I don’t think so.
example we use in the seminar clearly indicates that even though one
hundred words are spelled correctly, the only one that stands out is the
incorrect one. No one ever points out the fact that 99 words are spelled
correctly. Remember this lesson.
you, as a parent, make a conscious effort, each and every game, to spot
and remember five or six “good plays” that your child makes, you will
soon discover something. You will find yourself downplaying the mistakes
because these are not the things you are concentrating on. You will find
that in order to remember the plays for your ride home, you will be going
over and over them in your mind. Before long, you will be so proud of your
child that you won’t be able to contain yourself. You will look forward
to the ride home so that you can pour out the information you have stored
in your mind. Imagine how good your child will feel when all you want to
talk about are the good things he did on the ice.
such as “You were skating really fast out there tonight.
Good hustle out there!” or “That was a good shot on net on the
2 on 1. How did you see such a small opening to get the puck past the
goalie?” These are the
kinds of statements that will encourage a child to get into the
conversation. If he feels that he didn’t skate fast or should have passed
the puck on the 2 on 1, then he may want to talk about it, or even state
that next time he will try to pass on the 2 on 1. In most cases, the child
knows what he did wrong. If he doesn’t want to talk about it, then
don’t force the issue.
demonstrate the importance of this positive feedback and encouragement,
let me share with you a little story called “Animal School”.
upon a time the animals decided they must do something to meet the
problems of a new world, so they organized a school. They adopted the
activity curriculum consisting of running, climbing, swimming and flying
and, to make it easier to administer, all the animals took all the
duck was excellent in swimming – better in fact than his instructor –
and made passing grades in flying, but he was very poor in running. Since
he was slow in running he had to stay after school and also drop swimming
to practice running. This was kept up until his web feet were badly worn
and he was only average in swimming.
rabbit started at the top of the class in running but had a nervous
breakdown because of so much overwork trying to compete in the swimming
squirrel was excellent in climbing until he developed frustration in the
flying class where his teacher made him start from the ground up instead
of from the tree-top down.
eagle was a problem child and was disciplined severely. In the climbing
class he beat all the others to the top of the tree but insisted on using
his own way to get there.
the end of the year an abnormal eel that could swim exceedingly well and
also run, climb and fly a little had the highest average and was
prairie dogs stayed out of school and fought the tax levy because the
administration would not add digging and burrowing to the curriculum. They
apprenticed their children to a badger and later joined the ground hogs
and gophers to start a successful private school.
point of this little story is to drive home the damage that can be done
when we focus on the weaknesses of a child. So next time you feel like
talking about one of your child’s weaker areas, think about “Animal
School” and see if perhaps your child has a real talent or skill that
should be the focus of your discussion instead. It is a well-known fact
that if we focus on the things that we are good at, we will soon improve
on our weaknesses. However, if we focus too much on our weaknesses, we
often hurt our strengths.
way that parents put undue pressure on their children is by putting the
child in a situation where he is torn between listening to the coach or to
his parent. The coach is trying to develop a system of which your child
will be a key component. Telling your child to do something different from
what the coach has told him will only confuse the child and make the coach
get upset with you child if he listens to what you have told him. Chances
are your child will listen to you over the coach, not because it is
necessarily a better strategy or play, but because he knows that he has to
go home with you, not the coach.
year when I was coaching at the minor peewee level I had to call a meeting
with all of the parents after a particularly difficult game. Many of the
parents of the players on the team had the habit of shouting out
directions to the players. They would often shout out “pass the puck”
or “shoot the puck” as soon as one of our top three players touched
the puck. In the dressing room I had to tell them in no uncertain terms
that I didn’t want to hear those comments coming from the stands any
longer. I had to explain to them that I had instructed the three players
that unless, or until, there was an opposing player in the way, or they
were the last one back, they were to ‘carry the puck’ as deep into the
opposing zone as possible, going towards the corner if necessary. This
would allow the slower, less skilled players time to get to the front of
the net where they could have a chance to receive a pass or get a rebound
and an opportunity to score. The weaker players were having trouble taking
passes and when a long pass was sent their way, they often lost the puck.
So, in order to avoid that problem, the entire team knew that we were
going to use a basketball strategy and have our more talented puck
handlers bring the puck up for a set play. When the parents were
screaming, “pass the puck”, they were simply confusing the players.
are always welcome to shout encouragement from the stands. What you have
to be careful of is what you are shouting. Comments such as “Good shot;
Good pass; Good Check; Go, Go, Go” are all great things to generate
atmosphere at a game. Shouting directions or encouraging violence is not
something that is going to result in anything good.
following letter written by a young hockey player further reinforces the
negative influences that parents can have on their children, often without
even realizing it themselves.
Mom and Dad:
get excited. I’m not running away or anything. I hope you won’t be mad
that I left you guys this letter, but I don’t have the guts to say all
this stuff in person.
about our hockey team. I was really excited to make the traveling team
this year. The uniforms and hockey bags are pretty neat and we get to
travel all over the place. But I know you are disappointed in me.
started when Dad called our coach after the second game to tell him he was
taking me off the team. I know you used to like to tell the guys at work
how many goals I scored last year in house league. I guess you haven’t
got too much to tell them this year.
after the coach talked you out of taking me off the team I was really
nervous to go back. The coach told me he thought I was good enough to play
on the traveling team and not to worry. He told the other players I got
sick and they all kept asking me if I was feeling better.
know you really like it when I score goals. I guess that’s why you said
you’d give me five dollars for a goal and a dollar for an assist. But
the coach says an assist is as good as a goal. The coach wasn’t too
happy when I told him you gave me two dollars for a penalty though.
try to be more aggressive, like you said, but the other guys skate pretty
fast. You told me to carry the puck more, like Jimmy does, but I can’t
seem to go fast enough to get away from the other guys.
should see me play street hockey though. When they pick teams I always get
picked nearly first and I score a lot of goals. The other day I hit one of
the guys in the elbow with a tennis ball and we couldn’t stop laughing
for about a year. But before our real hockey games I always get so
know a lot about hockey, Dad, but I just can’t remember all the things
you tell me in the car on the way to the game. By the time we get there, I
always feel sick in my stomach.
don’t mind you screaming at the games because all the parents scream.
But don’t yell at John to pass the puck more. He’s the best player on
our team and without him we’d be dead.
our game yesterday, I felt bad when you yelled at the coach for not
putting me on the ice in the third period. It was a close game and he
wanted the best players out there. The coach is a pretty cool guy really,
and he doesn’t get any money or anything for coaching us.
know you were both pretty upset after we lost the game. You were surprised
when I started crying in the car on the way home. It wasn’t because of
when I got hurt in the second period, like I said. I just couldn’t help
love you both a lot, so I think I better quit hockey. It’s costing you a
lot of money, like you said, and you guys don’t seem to enjoy coming to
my games any more anyway. I can’t go back to house league, because all
of the guys would laugh. I hope you understand why I can’t play hockey
anymore. I think it’ll be the best thing for you guys.
THE NEGATIVE INFLUENCE OF PARENTS ON THE GAME
one is going to dispute the right of parents to be in the stands. Neither
is anyone going to try to convince me that parents do not have a right to
provide input into the hockey program in which their child is registered.
To say that parents should mind their own business and stop interfering
with the coach is like saying that parents should stay refrain from
interfering in the education of their child. However, that being said, one
of the biggest challenges facing minor hockey today deals with how to
reduce or eliminate the negative influence that parents can have on the
can exert a negative influence in a number of key areas.
example, when one or more parents begin yelling at the referee, it becomes
infectious. We all know how easy it is to catch a virus. It only takes one
person with a virus to spread it to everyone in the room. Some are more
contagious than others. Yelling at referees seems to be the most
contagious thing there is in hockey.
soon as one person begins getting on a referee it seems as if others in
the vicinity assume that the official is ‘fair game’. We could spend a
great deal of time on this subject because the practice of shouting
criticism of referees could merely be a reflection of some of the
deep-rooted problems generally found in society today. Shouting at an
authority figure from the stands is nothing more than a senseless act of
cowardice. It is embarrassing to all around, does nothing to help the
situation on the ice, but more importantly, it seems to bring out the
worst in hockey parents.
are some arenas where the parents must watch the game from inside a
glassed in observation room. They can yell all they want, but the only
people who will hear them are other parents. Their behaviour has no impact
on the players. While it takes away a bit of the atmosphere by not having
any fan noise, it certainly has a calming effect on the players.
players hear their parents yelling at the referee, one of two things will
happen. They may get upset with their parents and act aggressively to take
it out on other players. Or they will become upset with the referee and
act aggressively to take it out on other players.
that in both cases, the child becomes upset and begins to act
aggressively. This is when the game becomes difficult to manage. A referee
does not enjoy his job if every time he makes a call people are shouting
their disagreement. Even the most senior referee finds this annoying and
distracting. Some officials simply say “Fine, if that’s the way you
want it I won’t call any more penalties and the kids can go ahead and
kill themselves.” Others take the approach of, “You think I was
calling penalties before, let me show you what I can really be like.”
I was coaching I hated having the parents from my team stand behind my
bench. One day after a game during which a few parents were getting on the
referee, I called another one of my many parent meetings. For a while
during the season the parents automatically went to the meeting room after
games, simply because they expected me to call them together for some
reason. During this one meeting I told them that if any of them wanted to
yell at the referee, it was going to be very difficult for me to leave the
bench and come into the stands to talk to them. So I simply told them that
if they had to yell at the referee to do it from the other side of the
rink with the parents from the opposing team.
would think that it wouldn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that
referees don’t like being yelled at.
One would also think that it wouldn’t take a brain surgeon to
figure out that if you yell at a referee, he may take it out on your team.
That is why I was adamant that if our parents had to yell at the referee,
they do it from among the other team’s parents.
I was personally refereeing a hockey game during which parents were
getting “on my case”, I would position myself so that the players’
bench was in between the boisterous parents and me. I would wait for the
right moment, when some ‘overly demonstrative parent’ yelled one of
his more intelligent comments about my abilities, and then I would turn
and give a bench-minor to the coach. The coach would usually look
extremely startled, and then I would come over to the bench to explain
that I didn’t appreciate the fact that he was criticizing me out loud.
When he pointed to the fans to plead his case, I would simply say that it
sounded to me like it was coming from the bench and if I heard any more I
would toss him out of the game. The yelling from the parents usually
stopped after that. Eventually coaches caught on and refused to allow
their parents to stand anywhere near the bench when I was refereeing.
REDUCING THE PROBLEM IN THE STANDS
order to reduce the problem in the stands we need only follow what works
in the case of preventing the spread of a virus. If you want to keep a
virus from contaminating other organisms, you remove or quarantine the
virus. Therefore, if we want to reduce or eliminate the negative influence
of parents who like to yell at referees or other players, you remove those
parents or have them quarantined.
can be done in a number of ways. We can encourage referees to exercise
their authority by stopping the game and having the offending people
removed from the arena. This is a drastic measure and few referees want to
go through the problem of having to find someone to track down the arena
manager and deal with the commotion that follows.
the fan is being particularly threatening, the referee has the right to
approach the home team and demand that the person be removed or the game
will be forfeited to the visitors. The Home team is responsible for
providing a safe and secure environment. This again can be difficult to
administer since it is not always a parent from the Home team who is
causing the problem. In that case the offending parent from the visiting
team could actually be responsible for the victory.
simpler solution is available, and we are working with a couple of hockey
organizations to pilot a special initiative with this regard. At the
beginning of every game, the coach will identify five parents, in order
from #1 to #5. The coach will have to identify those parents before the
beginning of the game. The players of those parents will also be
identified on the scoresheet. During the game, if a referee or linesman
feels that comments are being made which may have a negative influence on
the game, the coach will be informed. The coach will then be given 30
seconds to have the first parent on the list removed from the
spectator’s section of the arena to watch the remainder of the game from
the lobby. The child of that parent will be forced to sit out a
time this happens, the next parent on the list will be removed and the
child of the parent will serve a bench-minor penalty. The third time it
happens, the coach will be ejected from the game.
first glance, this may seem a bit harsh and a little unfair on the child.
It may also seem even more unfair since the parent ejected may not have
been the one yelling. However, after a few games, the parents who always
yell will undoubtedly be the ones who are listed on the score sheet. And
eventually, it will be the child of the parent who will control of his
mother or father. It will also be the other parents on the team who will
exert control over the parents who like to yell.
net result of this initiative will undoubtedly be the virtual elimination
of a negative influence from the stands in a very short period of time.
DYNAMICS OF CROWD CONTROL
THE BROKEN WINDOW THEORY
addressing the issue of how to control unruly fans at minor hockey games,
it helps to understand the roots of the problem. In other word, how can
seemingly normal, well-adjusted citizens go from being responsible,
law-abiding adults one minute, to raging lunatics the next. And then,
revert back to the law-abiding, God-fearing citizen at the end of the
order to shed some light on the matter, I would like to refer to the “Broken
Broken Window Theory is used by criminologists to explain crime epidemics.
Now, admittedly, we would hardly call hockey fans criminals for yelling
insults at referees and opposing players, however, it is abnormal
behaviour and has led to criminal actions in some occasions. The most
important thing to remember is that this behaviour has a negative
influence on the children playing the game, and so it is as much an
epidemic as street crime in large cities.
Broken Window Theory simply proposes that crime is the inevitable result
of disorder. If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by
will conclude that no one cares and no one is in charge. Soon more windows
will be broken and the sense of anarchy will spread from the building to
the street on which it faces, sending a signal that anything goes. This
theory says that crime is contagious. It can start from a broken window
and spread to an entire community. This theory also says that a crime
epidemic is not caused by any particular type of person, but rather by an
event or something physical. This theory has been tested and proven by
social scientists. In other words, there are certain times and places and
conditions and instances where you can take normal people from good
schools and happy families and good neighbourhoods and powerfully affect
their behaviour merely by changing the details of their situation.
see how the Broken Window Theory applies to hockey.
is a game of emotions. It is a fast, hard-hitting game which is being
characterized more and more by a decreasing level of individual playing
skills among players, coupled
by the development of an advanced level of ‘system’ play which relies
on players utilizing ‘equalizing factors’ which are largely illegal in
National Hockey League is the only place that has been able to afford to
implement an effective solution. At this level they have introduced the
two-referee system that means players have much less chance of getting
away with anything, and they have also implemented the video replay. On
top of that the league executives can hand out suspensions based on the
videotape of the game, even if there was no penalty called on the play. As
a result, there is more control over the game and skilled players are able
to entertain the fans without as much interference by players of less
the minor hockey level, both players and officials are developing their
skills, under the watchful eyes of experienced coaches and critical
parents. When an opposing player commits an infraction against their
child, the parent may be predisposed to shout out his disapproval. It may
be that the parent is usually a mild-mannered person in everyday life, but
when his off-spring is struck blatantly by another kid, he reacts vocally
to this incident. If the same thing happens to another child, another
parent may shout out. This eventually leads to a number of parents being
extremely vocal, and before you know it, their attention is not on the
game, but on finding fault with the official who is supposed to be taking
care of their vulnerable children.
the fact that some parents are very vocal and may even be downright
threatening in their comments during a game has nothing to do with the
type of person in the stands, but more with the situation in which they
find themselves. An entire crowd can almost immediately turn ‘ugly’ as
a result of one simple play on the ice that prompted one single parent to
shout out in disgust.
the surface, it would appear that if a referee could call all penalties
then there would be no reason for parents and fans to yell. Anyone
involved in hockey knows that this is not the case. All parents are
capable of yelling and starting this epidemic. Some parents are better at
delivering the message. For example, if one of the parents happens to be a
respected coach of an elite level hockey club, and he shouts out at the
referee, everyone else may think he knows what he is doing and so they too
will begin to get on the referee’s back. A parent who knows nothing
about hockey may yell at the referee and no one pays attention to him. The
coach may begin yelling at the referee and be physically demonstrative in
his disagreement with a call. Parents, upon seeing that the coach is
upset, will usually think that there must be something wrong and begin to
yell as well – often without knowing what they are yelling about.
is no referee in the world who can avoid this type of scenario, for you
never know what is going to trigger the epidemic in the stands. You can be
calling the best game of your life and one hit from behind can start the
whole ball rolling. One gesture from the coach can get all of the fans on
only solution is to remove the “broken window” so that it doesn’t
encourage others. How this is done will be the subject of many studies and
consultant reports over the next few years. The end result could possibly
move things closer and closer to a complete ban of parents and fans from
minor hockey games. It may also mean a complete overhaul of the coaching
certification program. Things were much better before we began educating
coaches. The less coaches knew about coaching techniques, the more fun the
players seem to have had on the ice. Perhaps this is what we have to
return to. Instead of teaching young players the basics of skating,
passing, shooting and stick handling, maybe we should teach them to have
fun first. This method works for younger children, why not for all ages.
all, we are not in the business of developing players for the NHL. We are
in the business of providing a form of recreation for our children. Let
the NHL worry about developing their players when the kids get to midget
and junior age. Until then, children, and their parents, should be
focusing on the right priorities.