Friday, October 22, 2010

Mis-behaving hockey parents are now on notice

A very public resignation of a Nova Scotia volunteer in minor hockey has once again drawn attention to perhaps the number one problem in minor sports these days, parents that don't quite get it  when it comes to the pursuit of athletics by their children.

While the Tim Horton's commercials may provide a wishful view of the ice side experience, the annual problem of parents who mis-behave at the rink (or in some cases far from it) is once again making  news.

In question is how to reign in those parents who conduct themselves in a bullying fashion, or project the prospect of intimidation and/or potential violence towards players, coaches, officials and administrators, a question that is getting addressed in a number of areas of the country, with a very public examination recently revealed in Nova Scotia.

Wayne McDonald was the vice president of the Timberlea Minor Amateur Sports Association, until the verbal abuse and threats of violence from a few of the hockey parents in the region led him to say enough was enough.

But rather than just disappear into the growing pool of former volunteers who had tired of the abuse and lack of assistance from parents, he took his case to the province's largest newspaper. Submitting to the Halifax Chronicle Herald his reasons for his resignation and concerns for sport in general within his association.

The Halifax Chronicle Herald outlined some of the issues behind his departure from the local hockey scene, which included abusive phone calls made to Mr. McDonald at his place of work.

Mr. McDonald's travails with the parenting class have also been documented by the Globe and Mail which reviewed some of the incidents that led to his decision and the reaction in the region since it took place.

The Globe also provides some details of a Calgary based initiative that many say should become nationwide, a program designed to give parent's cause for a second look at how they behave at the rink.

Calgary Minor hockey currently has in place a requirement that all parents must take the Respect in Sport program,  in short, the parents have to hit the books on proper behaviour, before their children can hit the ice.

While it's generally accepted that 98 per cent of the folks that stop by the rink to watch are well behaved, it's the 2 % that seem to ruin the moment for all, and for which the program hopes to turn around.

You can view more details about the online course from the Hockey Calgary site.

The Calgary program was created in 2004 by Wayne McNeil and former NHL hockey player Sheldon Kennedy, designed to protect the sanctity of the hockey rinks, a place where the game would remain fun and free from bullying, intimidation and any threatening behaviour at the hands of those that brought the kids to the rink.

This was the first year that the program was made mandatory in the Calgary Association, requiring at least one parent of the Association's 13,500 players to take the one hour on line course before their child can play organized hockey.

It may not completely bring to an end the era of the obnoxious parent, but at least may give them cause for second thoughts when it comes to their boorish behaviour.

The program seems rather easy to implement and could easily be transferred to other sports as well, providing lessons and reflection for those that also stand on a soccer  or football sideline or grab a seat court side at a basketball game or behind the plate at a baseball game.

A few decades ago facing parental apathy when it came to sport, there was a familiar television commercial which had Dick Irvin urging parents to stick around the rink when they dropped their kids off for a game or a practice. Some thirty years later and that may not seem like such a good idea for a few of those parents.

Some high profile incidents over the years have indicated how far that simple concept has been threatened by parents that don't recognize their responsibilities or their boundaries.

Perhaps with the RIS program in place nationwide and beyond the realm of hockey, those days of sport for the enjoyment  of the kids can return to the rinks, courts and fields of the nation

1 comment:

Calgary Hockey Camp said...

The programs of respect in sports provides the detailed information on abuse, bullying and harassment. This information is very helpful to handle such matters in a more convenient way.