In an attempt to evolve Neanderthals into real people, Hockey New Brunswick is requiring the parents of the youngest minor hockey players to take a course on rinkside behaviour next fall.
“It’s a lot easier to educate someone on how to be a productive, positive parent when your child is five and six years old, because there is very little that happens on the ice that causes them to get emotionally tied to situations to the point where they act inappropriately,” said the general manager of Hockey New Brunswick, Brian Whitehead, to the Toronto Star.
New Brunswick isn’t the only province taking steps to make minor hockey rinks safer. The program is already mandatory in Alberta, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, parts of Prince Edward Island, and Regina.
The rinkside behaviour course is a step in the right direction. But when a game is heated, will the online course really help hockey parents bite their tongues? Or by mid-season point will the course be well in the back of their minds? I highly doubt when a parent is about to throw a verbal dagger at a 12-year-old hockey player or a 16-year-old referee in January, he/she will stop themselves because of a video he/she watched in September. There might be the odd case where the course makes headway in rinks; however, it is safe to say rinkside behaviour won’t be a revolution.
In reality, there will never be a formula to convert loud and ignorant hockey parents into respectable individuals. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to improve the atmospheres in minor hockey rinks.
It seems the best way to change the barbaric ways of some hockey parents is to show them how they look after they have cooled down. To do so, minor hockey associations would have to put up video cameras on the fans throughout hockey rinks and replay the videos on big screen televisions in the lobbies. I am sure parents would let cooler heads prevail if they knew an idiotic showing would make them community television stars.
Laying out strict punishments for those caught verbally abusing fans, players, coaches, and/or officials is another step in the right direction. I believe a two-strike system would work. On your first warning, you are banned for the remainder of the season. The second time around, it is a lifetime ban. This should scare some parents into being respectful.
Fortunately for Saskatchewan, there hasn’t been a jaw-dropping hockey parent incident in the 306 in recent years. But that’s not to say there isn’t parents and coaches making fools of themselves on a daily basis in our province.
Vancouver native Martin Tremblay stands out as the poster boy of idiotic hockey parents in Canada. The minor hockey coach purposely tripped a 12-year-old boy during handshakes after a game this winter. He paid for his actions with a 15-day jail sentence because someone at the rink caught the trip on their smart phone’s video camera.
Tremblay, as many other hockey parents have, lost sight of the purpose of minor hockey. It is merely for the kids, no the parents. Although the kids don’t have a voice, it goes without saying that they don’t want Neanderthals watching their games, especially if they are blood related.