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Let's just let the kids play

The Moore You Know: A column by photographer Covy Moore

By: Covy Moore

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 06:00 am

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We have all seen it on television. Parents being hauled out of arenas nationwide for getting too involved in their child’s hockey game, due to violence or what some may call over-enthusiasm while cheering on their offspring.

I get it. I have sat through hundreds of hockey games in my life, from my childhood days playing in the Airdrie Minor Hockey League, to being a sibling watching my younger brother play. I have even covered World Junior Action and NHL hockey. Tension can be high, but making the game or entire season about you is wrong.

Through my minor hockey days until today as a big brother sitting in the stands, I have heard a multitude of horror stories about parents and coaches, from showing up to hockey games drunk and unruly, to fighting in the hallways. The atmosphere is destroyed for both parents and players when all anyone can talk about is behind-the-scene drama.

I wanted to take the opportunity now that the season is over to remind parents and coaches that this isn’t about you.

As soon as I heard the horror stories from a variety of parents, I figured it was time to contact the league to find out if it’s something that they are aware of and deal with, or just something they disregard and let happen year after year.

Greg Wing, the current president of Airdrie Minor Hockey, was more than happy to answer all of the questions I had. Despite my attitude going into the interview, which was less than chipper, he was able to address almost case-by-case my concerns.

“When I started this job, I was warned about hockey parents. ‘It’s going to be brutal,’ people said,” said Wing. “I can count on both my hands the amount of cases we have had to deal with. The parents are very understanding, easy to talk to, but they do get heated sometimes.”

Wing said parents are required to take what is called the Respect Program through Hockey Alberta, which is supposed to give them a sense of respect and responsibility through the quick online tutorial.

Unfortunately, I have heard that parents just make their way through this program quickly, not absorbing what should be serious information.

In the instances of parents becoming violent with coaches or other parents, Wing said the parents are dealt with, and know they are out of line.

One parent I spoke to, who has children playing hockey in Calgary, said she has been screamed at by a coach in front of the entire team. Again, something that is unacceptable and takes away from the fun the players are supposed to be having.

Wing said a lot of criteria has to be met before someone can coach in the Airdrie Minor Hockey Association, and he rarely hears of any issues with coaches.

This is my attempt at trying to make parents realize that the season is not about them. Leave the drama at the door, let your child play hockey and let the coaches do the coaching. I am sick and tired of attending a multitude of hockey games and hearing stories about drama behind the scenes instead of common conversation topics like how the Calgary Flames suck, or how little Johnny made the play of the game!


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