Stricter Rules for Hockey ParentsThe sport of hockey has a long proud history of being one of the best sports in the world. Great excitement for the fans and great fun for the players, but lately there has been too much emphasis on winning in the lower levels. It is very hard for children now days to play hockey for the fun of the game.
It is not the children themselves, or even the coaches that put this pressure to win on them. It is the parents of the children who create this pressure. Hockey parents have made winning so important that they sometimes lose sight of the reason that they are there in the first place. Hockey may be a fast paced, high adrenaline sport (you see more fights in hockey than any other team sport), but parents should leave the body contact to the players. Fortunately, physical abuse is still not very common in arenas but every year there are more reports of enraged parents assaulting referees or other players due to mishaps that took place during the game. Winning is not the only reason that some parents become upset.
There has also been a growing dilemma with parents becoming outraged with coaches for factors as small as the amount of ice time their child receives during a game. There is a growing ambition among parents for their child to succeed in hockey and become a professional even before the child reaches adolescence. Although very serious, physical abuse is still not a common sight in arenas, but it is a serious problem which needs to be corrected. Verbal abuse however, is very common in arenas all over Ontario. Names and threats can be heard coming from the stands at any caliber of hockey at any age. This is also a significant problem which needs to be stopped.
The best defense against this kind of behaviour would be to create stricter penalties for anyone parents who get out of control. Anyone who is verbally abusive to officials or coaches should be given fines which increase for each infraction. If the abuse continues after three fines then the person should be banned from arenas for a specified amount of time depending on the severity and the frequency of the instances. If not abuse persists even after the ban the parent should be banned from all minor hockey games for life. Any physical bouts between parents and officials should result in the parent being banned for an unofficial length of time and a evaluation/review of the situation and peoples involved, with an official punishment proceeding.
But how will these punishments be enforced? The government does not have the funds to ensure that police officers can not be on duty at every minor hockey game in the province. Instead a new officiating position will have to be created in order to control parents and assign punishments as necessary. These officers would be trained and paid through the money from registration from minor hockey organizations similarly to referees on the ice. These individuals would also be given the right to eject anyone from the game who is causing a disturbance without an additional punishment.It is a shame that this may be the only way to deter the parental abuse of authority figures, but if these incidents continue to rise at the same degree that they are presently there may not be another means of stopping it.
The sport of hockey has become more than a game for most Canadians, it has become an obsession. Unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. With these rules and enforcements the game of hockey can return to being an excellent spectator sport, where fans can watch and officials can work in a safe environment.