Hockey parents gone wild
Stating that Canadians are crazy about hockey is like saying Justin Bieber is rather popular among female teeny boppers.
Both points are obvious, and both involve lots of screaming. But while "Bieber Fever" usually results in squeals of delight among the Canadian pop star's fan base, screaming parents at Canadian minor hockey games often produces a much darker emotion.
This week, a 29-year old hockey dad was charged with assaulting a 17-year old referee after a recent game at a rink near Port Perry, Ontario; a game involving, get this, 8 and 9-year olds. Police say the guy thought the kid in stripes did a lousy job, and a bunch of other adults who also hassled the ref are in hot water with their local minor hockey association. This bizarre story comes at the same time as a Pee Wee hockey coach in Vancouver, B.C. has just been sentenced to two weeks in jail for tripping a couple of kids on purpose during a post-game handshake following a play-off game.
Fortunately, my two little lads are playing their first year of hockey in a friendly Toronto house league. But while you don't witness the sort of goofy stuff from "alleged" adults mentioned above, you can already see a few bad seeds beginning to sprout even though house league hockey is designed exclusively for fun. For example, would you believe that my kids' league actually keeps scoring stats for 5-year olds? Organizers would like to drop the program, but it's tough because a few pushy parents are always bugging them, saying "Hey! How come my kid's stats aren't posted yet?"
I'm not one of those touchy-feely types who believe you shouldn't keep score because it might hurt little Johnny's feelings if he ends up on the wrong end. But the score is a "team" statistic, while keeping tabs on the individual points parade is a needless headache for volunteer officials that only serves to stroke the ego of the parents of a few kids who can actually stand-up on their skates. Both my guys have managed to score a couple of goals this year. But what about the poor kids who have a zero beside their names? You often hear kids bragging around the dressing room about their numbers, something that needlessly makes other players feel inferior while also discounting the "No 'I' in 'team' theory".
Now granted, keeping stats for 5-year olds isn't on the same level as attacking a teenage ref or a coach pushing around Pee Wee hockey players.
But it is yet another wake-up call for a country that's too often guilty of taking their passion for the game way over the top.