I’m struggling to find the right words to use to tell you how absolutely appalled I was last week when both the Saskatchewan Hockey Association (SHA) and Hockey Canada (HC) basically endorsed the behaviour of out-of-control hockey parents.
This topic is no stranger to this space. I’ve more or less quit going to my 12-year-old son’s minor hockey games, because I don’t want to be with some hockey parents. This doesn’t apply to the parents watching the game respectfully, or the parents who exuberantly cheer on and encourage their children’s on-ice successes – and misses.
I’ve quit going to minor hockey games because of the parents who act like absolute barbarians. They scream instructions at their kid at the top of their lungs: “SKAAAAATE!!”
If your kid is 12 years old and hasn’t figured out that he or she has to skate while playing hockey, you should probably ask yourself if soccer isn’t a better option.
If they’re not screaming at their kid, who is usually pretending not to know their own parents, Mom or Dad are splitting our eardrums with all sorts of guidance on where to pass the puck, or who to cover, or another personal favourite of mine, “SHOOOOT!!” Again, if they don’t know this already, consider baseball.
I could probably suck it up, but I’ve noticed as the kids get older, the parents have started turning their sights on the other team’s players. As one of the top-scoring players in his league, my son is often on the receiving end of this crap. “CHERRY-PICKER! COVER THE CHERRY-PICKER!” screamed one woman, every time my son, who plays forward, was within three metres of the net.
Every bone in my body was aching to walk over and punch her right in the mouth. Yeah, I said it. Right in the mouth. Or at the very least, verbally excoriate her for being so stupid.
“Cherry-picking” in hockey refers to a player who hovers in the neutral zone, behind the other team’s defence, while the rest of his or her team defends their own net from an offensive blitz. It’s considered both selfish and lazy. My son plays offence, so he hovers around the opposite team’s net when the play is in that zone. In other words, he is doing his job.
So maybe I’m still not over it.
Here’s the thing, though. If I had approached that woman and gave her a piece of my mind, and someone turned their phone and started recording, what are you going to see on the video? Two hockey moms, with zero context, equally appearing to act like jerks … and if looks like a duck and talks like a duck ... Quack.
So I don’t really go to games anymore, because my choice is sitting there quietly and letting someone verbally berate my son, or risk becoming just like them.
My point in all this is that the SHA’s support of the suspension of two referees who shut down the Jan. 26 bantam (that would be players who average in age of 14 or 15 years old) game between the visiting Prince Albert Hurricanes and the home team in Hague, because the players’ parents were acting like a bunch of rabid baboons, clinging to the rink boards and flinging their crap at each other as well as the refs, who no longer felt safe.
(Parents deny everything, incidentally. Must be those pesky alternative facts.)
It would seem the referees’ fears for their personal safety were validated when the RCMP arrived on the scene and provided the referees a police escort to their vehicles.
Yet inexplicably, the Saskatchewan Valley Hockey League opted to suspend the refs, supposedly because the refs didn’t follow proper protocol before shutting down the game.
Are you kidding me? Does anyone really expect refs, already in short supply, to set aside their concerns for their personal safety and attempt to herd a mob of pitchfork-carrying, mouth-breathing parents out of the rink, so their precious darlings can finish their widdle hockey game?
The madness doesn’t stop there, though. Hockey Canada president Tom Renney also weighed in, telling The Canadian Press he supported the suspension of the referees, because he “trusts the league’s process.”
While the League was responsible for the suspensions, the SHA and HC are responsible for the integrity of the game, and they should have completely supported the referees, no question. Whatever happened to the “zero-tolerance” policy?
These are stunning levels of incompetence from the people who are supposed to be in charge of this game in Saskatchewan and Canada. You’re kidding yourself if you think this type of parental behaviour is just Letterkenny-style small town rowdiness. Hockey parents in Saskatchewan are out of control – and if you have a problem with that statement, you’re probably part of the problem.