Youth hockey tournaments are fun. You get to go to neat places; kids get to have lots of fun on and off the ice; parents get to hang out with other grown-ups; and everyone gets to eat a lot of junk food. This weekend at Jay Peak in Vermont, all of those good things happened.
Bless the coaches, who give their time and effort to their teams, and bless the parents, who pay for this whole thing. However, a small but noticeable portion of parents and coaches can and often do dish out an eyeful and an earful of bad hockey behavior. Here is a list of DON’Ts, based on actual conduct I witnessed this past weekend.
- If your kid scores a goal, DON’T act like you’re an 11-year-old who scored his first goal ever. It’s obnoxious.
- If you absolutely, positively must bring a cowbell to the rink, DON’T only ring the cowbell when your kid does something good. It’s annoying.
- If you spot your kid not back-checking, and the other team ends up scoring on that play, DON’T run down behind the bench and yell at your kid. It’s embarrassing for your kid.
- If one of your players gets hit from behind, and lies motionless on the ice for 2 minutes before staggering back to the bench, DON’T put that child back into the game, even if you only have 4 defensemen. He has a concussion.
- If there is a bad call against you in the final minutes of a game that you are winning 4-1, DON’T say something to the referee that makes him have to toss you out of the game. You look like a jackass.
- If you’re disappointed with how your team performed, tell them in the locker room. DON’T bring the team outside the front door of the rink to yell at them in front of a bunch of strangers. It ruins the non-hockey part of the weekend.
- If you have to go out of doors to admonish your team over a poor performance, DON’T say, “you guys are a bunch of clowns,” before separating them into groups of players who did or did not play hard enough to please the coach. It’s humiliating for the kids.
No matter how many awareness campaigns, be it by USA Hockey or the Fox Valley Hockey Rink in Illinois (above), some small percentage of parents and coaches continue to misbehave. I’d love to confront/educate violators of these DON’Ts, but I’m not keen on getting into a parking lot brawl.
I am going to just continue to do my best to remember why we have our kids participate in youth sports - to have fun, make friends, and develop a love for the game.
DON'T forget it.