Sprung the dating game

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.

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Sprung the dating game

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.

Seconds before the final buzzer, a player from Vaughan shoves an opponent into the boards, and angry shouts rise from the seats. ” Mapping the violence: Incidents of minor hockey violence in Canada in the last six years Both ploys failed, but the fanaticism driving them exerts an ever greater burden on the system, says Michael Penman, a board member of the GTHL who serves as its legal adviser.

Willowdale parents holler over the glass at the referee, who pleads for calm, assuring them that the offence will be penalized as the player rises uninjured. With the constant threat of litigation hanging over it, the league has beefed up its hearing process into a shadow justice system designed to ensure due process that will be upheld in court.

“If we stay on the same path, in 15 years, this won’t be Canada’s game.” The coach is looking sheepish.

Down two key players, his peewee select team in west Toronto has just played to an entertaining shootout loss, and he is quietly pleased with the hard-earned point.

“I kind of knew him, so he’d come over saying he wanted to explain the call.” He laughs nervously, and flushes. But his discernible regret, long after the fact, points to a curious phenomenon among hockey adults who cross the line.

“Outside the rink, they can be the nicest people,” says Horan, the New Tecumseth minor hockey president.

I suck.’ You need to be very careful about your timing, how it’s phrased and whether it’s in front of other people.” Studies such as Fraser-Thomas’s are of growing interest to Hockey Canada, because they point to a link between parental obsessiveness and children’s interest in the game.

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