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Hockey is about fun and fair play

Commentary with Geoff deGannes
Commentary with Geoff deGannes

There’s been concern among minor hockey organizations across the country in recent years that Canada’s game is under threat.

You’ve seen and read the stories about how everything from confrontations with officials, shouting matches between coaches, fist fights between parents in the stands and bad conduct among young players are exacting an enormous toll on the game. 

You’ve seen and read the stories about how everything from confrontations with officials, shouting matches between coaches, fist fights between parents in the stands and bad conduct among young players are exacting an enormous toll on the game. 

Macleans Magazine reporter Charlie Gillis wrote an article a couple of years ago about how obsessive and litigious parents are poisoning the grassroots of our national sport. The national magazine points to the declining interest in hockey as opposed to soccer.

Hockey Canada has tried to bring some semblance of sanity back to the rink with an online video course called Respect in Sport. Organizations like Hockey Nova Scotia and Hockey New Brunswick require that new participants have at least one family member register for the course.  Hockey New Brunswick has taken further steps to address the problem by erecting anti-bullying signs at about 80 rinks across the province, hoping to create a more respectful attitude in the stands.

It is unfortunate that it has come to this, but hopefully it will make a difference. The sign is succinct and blunt. It reads: "We need people like you to attend the clinics, study the rule book, strap on the skates and wear the jersey because that’s the commitment we need. If you only want to yell from the bench or behind the glass, then you’re just a bully." "Bullying: do you think it’s just kids doing it? Think again."  

Locally, Jason Rhinas and Robert Bird are doing their part to promote that message by having members of their Kent Novice Ramblers hockey team don stickers on their helmets that have an anti-bullying message.

The stickers ask “If not me, who?” and “If not now, when?” and suggest if someone sees a parent exhibiting bad behaviour to go to them and tell them to stop and think about what they’re doing.  As Bird points out, novice is also a good age to begin reinforcing the message of respect and anti-bullying.

We know that the vast majority of hockey moms and dads are good parents and respectful fans, but it only takes a few to let their emotions get the better of them and trouble ensues. It seems that once they are in a hockey rink environment, they lose perspective and blaming, yelling and bulling take precedence.

The same applies on ice. Disrespect for other players, coaches and officials can never be tolerated. It is about fun and fair play and we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that it is afterall, only a game.

Geoff deGannes is the past chairman of the Tantramar Radio Society. His daily commentaries can be heard on 107.9 CFTA.

 

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