We’ve seen all too many stories in the news about over-zealous parents at hockey games who get in shouting matches and even physical altercations. I suppose, if you tried really hard, you could start to understand how, in the heat of the moment, a parent could get caught up in the excitement of a game or the defense of their child on the ice. I myself have had an intense moment or two during a game where I felt either the Devil, the Boy or one of their teammates had been wronged. I’ve shouted sarcastic comments at the odd ref and even exchanged a few verbal jabs across the stands with parents from other teams. But I don’t recall any instances where things could have gotten out of control. I have seen other parents come eye-to-eye on a few occasions.
Such an occasion occurred this past weekend at a game hosted by the Devil’s team. The girls were playing a team that sits at the bottom of the standings; they have lost far more games than they have won. Parents from that team are likely a little more sensitive to questionable plays or referees’ calls. And indeed, in this game, there were a couple of rough hockey plays along the boards where one’s perspective could have been skewed. However, there was one father, in particular, who became quite animated after a couple of these plays, throwing his share of expletives at the officials on the ice.
A little later in the game, with the score 4-0 for the home team, there was a more vigorous altercation. In fact, I thought an older boys’ game had broken out. Four girls converged in the corner of the ice at the end of a play and two girls ended up on the ice. One of our girls who had been pushed down…pushed back. In fact, a couple of punches may have been thrown. The refs were quick to defuse the melee with multiple penalties to follow. High drama for 13 and 14 year old girls. When three players from the opposing team and only two players from the Devil’s team entered the penalty box, the aforementioned frantic father flipped his lid. He became ever more agitated; hurling even more venomous, coloured language at the officials. A woman, I believe was his wife, physically pulled him aside; imploring him to tone it down. One of our fathers rightly took exception to the language being used and asked that he pipe down. Two of the opposing fathers now howled back over at our father. Moments later the referees sorted out the infractions with the Devil’s team actually being given an extra penalty. Saner heads prevailed, though it was easy to see how this could have been one of those hairier moments you hear about on the news. A similar situation reportedly unfolded on the benches as one coach from the visiting team was likewise perturbed with the “rough” play of our girls or more likely was also frustrated by another loss. He exchanged a few select comments with one of our coaches, who defended the aggressive, and certainly not dirty, play of the eventual victors.
Thankfully, the rest of the game was played without issue. The Devil’s team held on to the four goal lead for a win.
Win, losses, ties aside; it is just a game, played by our kids for fun. It’s not to be taken too seriously. We should all try to keep that in mind.