One widely applauded Hockey Canada ad campaign in the early 2000s challenged parents to put themselves in their kids’ skates; the slogan used: “Relax, it’s just a game.” The best TV spot featured a kid loudly critiquing his dad while the man tried to sink a putt on the golf course, shouting, “That was pathetic! “If one of the reasons people are staying away is the perception of those challenges,” says Paul Carson, vice-president of development, “do you really want to put them centre-stage?” Like many, Carson laments what he sees as media’s preoccupation with bad hockey adults, which he believes exaggerates their influence. But Todd Millar, a former president of Hockey Calgary who was pushed out two years ago after venting frustration with hockey parents on his blog, sees things differently.The animated video highlights obvious no-nos of sport parenting, from harassing officials to using guilt as a motivator (“Do you know how much mommy and daddy paid for this? Starting next season, parents, coaches and officials in all 31 of the OMHA’s leagues will be required to complete the , one-hour course, while other Ontario jurisdictions—including the GTHL—have left it to the discretion of individuals.But Don Cherry recently used his pulpit to dismiss the move as a “money grab,” adding, “the two per cent of goofs are still going to be goofs.” And even proponents wonder whether it will work, given how past efforts to change attitudes have fallen ﬂat. Moreover, Hockey Canada officials wonder whether highlighting hockey’s ugly side could be counterproductive.For years now, he says, a reluctance to rock the boat has stopped the hockey community from confronting a problem that is now clearly hurting it.“Maybe the worst incidents are being magnified for all the right reasons,” he says.But now, amid the spare sweaters and sticks in his club’s equipment room, he’s looking back on a decade behind the bench, and recalling his least fine hour.It was two years back, in the middle of the playoffs, and the game had gone pear-shaped.
She’s tried to get her own son and his friends involved in coaching, but they don’t want to deal with the parents.
Kasey Dennis is a rarity among minor hockey parents, not because she loses her temper, but because she admits it. You get caught up in the moment, and I’m the type of person who doesn’t take stuff sitting down.” She recalls an incident last season that brought her as close as she’s been to physical confrontation at a children’s sporting event. It’s a behaviour-modulation strategy she’s used many times since—one with which nine-year-old players can surely relate: “I give myself a time-out.” She’s telling her story between games at a two-rink complex in Mississauga, Ont., where so far things have unfolded much more peacefully—minor hockey as seen in a Canadian Tire ad.
“It’s the adrenalin,” says Dennis, whose nine-year-old son, Evan, plays for the Winter Hawks, a minor atom AA team from Innisfil, Ont. The Hawks were playing a tournament game in Richmond Hill, Ont. The Hawks have won 4-0 and lunch beckons at a nearby pizza joint.
She could hear parents of players on the opposing team calling to their youngsters. But a peewee game between teams from Vaughan and Willowdale is under way on the other ice surface, and Dennis has no sooner hustled Evan out the door than it suddenly turns sour.
The worst part was, you could see the kids were actually trying do it.” Afraid of what might happen if she got up and confronted the offending parents, Dennis instead removed herself to the arena lobby, pacing the rubberized floor until her blood cooled.