As the General Manager of a 10 year old girls Hockey Club it is not unusual to be the main point of contact for general questions and inquiries for the Family and Friends of our players. Challenges can vary from scheduling to ice time, rosters to parking, and everything in between. But here in my fourth year in the position I was floored with one of the most difficult to answer and rather heartbreaking questions I have ever come across.
“Do you have a place for Grandparents to sit and watch the Game?”
A simple request that would normally be followed with pointing out that supporters usually sat directly across from or behind the bench of the team they were there to see. However the brief conversation that followed told a very different tale of the atmosphere in the stands of Minor Hockey Clubs throughout the country.
What this gentle middle-aged couple really wanted was a good vantage point to view their granddaughter and her teammates with the glowing pride that all grandparents have. They wanted somewhere to sit that was well away from the horrible things being said about the volunteer coaching staff, about the officiating and most incredulous of all, about the 10 year old children who just want to make them proud.
Now Hockey Crowds and especially Hockey Parents have always had the moniker of being loud and obnoxious, rowdy and demeaning but instead of being weary of this and trying to improve, it would appear that some parents are wearing it as a badge of honor. This is a story told over and over without any sort of deterrent, and as a Volunteer Staff member I can assure you, the last thing I would like to see happen is having a child punished for the sins of their parents.
Media has done a wonderful job of helping John Q. Public become one of the best hockey analysts the game has ever seen, or so they would tell you. But not only is your loud objection to an unfortunate pass or shot unnecessary it is also completely unacceptable. Normal public civility aside, the negativity you bring and willfully subject the room to is driving away the very people who make it possible for your child to play.
Yes we are all very aware that you were Atom Regional Select Champion 1982/83, (mostly because you keep reminding us) but you cannot project your “drive” and “passion” to young women by using boorish language and questionable hand gestures in order to “will” them to play the way you would have back when “men were men”. This might be why you and I never car pool to games.
I can certainly sympathize with the grandparents, I know that each new rink I go to I look for the furthest place away I can stand from the negative politicking that started in the lobby an hour before puck drop. I just like to find that quiet spot where I can watch the whole game without running commentary on my kid, or someone else’s kid who “doesn’t deserve the chance to play”. The kids get to play based on their effort, not yours.
New arenas seem to be being constructed with all of these things in mind, they have either removed most of the seating or are having it pushed way back, because believe it or not the kids do hear the crowd, they will tell you they don’t, but only because they cannot repeat what they have heard. Yet they have told every girl in the change room. As a result we lose another girl to hereditary bullying.
Nine times out of ten, when a child freezes on the ice and commits a “horrendous error” it boils down to one factor; Double Coaching. The child knows what they have been taught by their Coach, and what needs to be done in this situation, however those noisy parents are the ones they have to drive home with and there is no doubt this moment will be dissected time and time again.
All of this comes down to how you view your ROI (Return On Investment), and all the riches that will come to you later in life due to the fact that you kicked and screamed your daughter to stardom. But let me point out that University and College Recruiters interview parents along with the young prodigy, and an increasing number of children are missing out on scholarship opportunities based parents’ behavior and incessant intervention.
Minor Hockey gives all of its players the platform to learn more life skills off the ice than they will ever learn on it, and let’s hope that holds true because what they are hearing on ice is your insensitive tongue wagging and narrow minded point of view. Instead of having more Girls give up playing, I would advise them to give up playing for you but to keep playing for themselves, their teammates and those wonderful Grandparents who only came to see their beautiful Grandchild try.
From now on I will sit with the Grandparents, they have already lived the past and they just want to cherish the now and the future.