After being in arenas most of my life, I am always amazed at the amazing stupidity inherent in some sports parents.
This past Saturday at the Gaylord Powless Arena, minor hockey fans were treated to the added “entertainment” of a hockey dad completely losing his mind on an 18-year-old female referee during a peewee game. Real class.
When the penalties following an on-ice altercation didn’t line-up with his personal assessment of the brief encounter, a man began with a tirade of swearing, demeaning the referee. Keep in mind; this is a Peewee house league game.
When he would not shut up, he was told by the referee to leave the arena. He complied dropping F-bombs at everyone, including the young referee, as he left.
My immediate thoughts turned to the kid who had to watch from the ice as their dad went ballistic.
Restraint to a guy like this means not going onto the ice and smacking the young referee, himself.
I have seen this so many times while covering minor sports, when someone’s next Sidney Crosby gets the bad end of a call and dad or mom freaks out in the stands, ready to climb the glass and kill the referee at centre ice.
Fortunately, in the vast majority of minor games from one end of Canada to the other, this kind of abuse is not a normal response.
From peewee to professional, one expects the coach to deal with the referee on a preserved bad call. But there is a very big difference. Pro fans have paid far too much money to watch the game and I’ve always believed that that ticket price comes with a certain about of leniency towards hardcore fans in whatever sport to express their joy or discontent with how “their team” is making out and the right to express that discontent.
But these are pro referees, paid pretty well for ignoring the verbal attacks they hear every game from one side, or the other who believes the referee has it out for them. A minor league referee is not and should not have to deal with an out-of-control parent.
So what is the right response? Sure, express yourself, but remember that everyone’s moral lines are in different places and just because using an F-bomb may be the common language at home, it is not accepted as normal in many others, especially with women and kids sitting in the same section, and certainly not at a peewee hockey game.
On this point I have to agree with Don Cherry’s advice to over zealous sports parents — those parents should be banned from the arena or sidelines if they lose their cool.
Some parents forget that the game is for their kids, not for satisfying an unfulfilled dream of being a star themselves.