The SETTING: A 12 and under youth hockey game
The TEAMS: Team A – Smaller, 10 & 11 year olds vs.
Team B – Bigger, 12 year olds
The PLOT: Team A is beating a bigger Team B, 3 -1
ACTION: Team B, as they fall behind, begins to play extremely physical, and dirty, checking from behind, slamming kids into the boards after the whistle, making lewd comments and clearly going after the opposing players, NOT the puck!
The REFS: Call only minor infractions, over 45 of them!, but let the dangerous, overly physical play continue, ignoring complaints from Team A coaches and parents. When Team A coach protests about the Refs not doing their job, one Ref responds, “This is just hockey. It’s how the game is played!”
The COACHES: Team B’s coaches not only allow this poor sportsmanship and “goon-like” play to continue, they actually encourage it! When Team A’s coaches directly complain to them, Team B’s head coach responds with demeaning remarks about Team A’s players and coaching staff. (Important note: This is just a game being played by children!)
The CLIMAX: Third period. Small, Team A player is checked hard, head-first into the boards, AFTER the whistle. NO penalty is called! The kid does not get up for several minutes. Team A coach has had enough. Against league regulations, with at least 5 more minutes left in the final period, he pulls his players off the ice. He legitimately feels his kids are at risk, especially with the Refs not doing their jobs.
The PARENTS: As Team A players leave the ice, parents from Team B hoot at and boo players, with one mother making obscene gestures, while calling A’s players, “pussies!”
The MORAL: This is clearly an EXTREME example of what’s wrong in youth sports and sadly, it actually happened. Even if you’re not involved in hockey, any of these behaviors from any adults is unacceptable in ANY sport. We all need to remember that Youth sports is FOR the kids, NOT the adults. It’s the coaches, parents and refs jobs to keep the competitive sport environment FUN and SAFE, and to both model and teach appropriate behaviors and important life lessons: Good sportsmanship; Fair play; How to handle both winning and losing; Respect for women; Honesty and integrity of character; Being a good human being in the world and ALWAYS keeping the game in perspective.