I finally found some free quiet time yesterday morning to sit down (or rather lay back) and read former President of Hockey Calgary, Todd Millar’s, book dramatically and appropriately titled Moron.
The premise of the book, which begins with a Wikipedian definition of the word “moron”, is that minor hockey in Canada is being ruined by a small minority of “moronic” hockey parents and action must be taken to protect the game we all love for our kids’ sake. The author identifies six main problem areas: Safety, Fair Play, Bullying, Respect, Volunteerism and Adult Behaviour.
Off the top, I will say I agree with at least 95% of what Mr. Millar has written, I applaud his candor and I think this book should be required reading for every hockey parent. As I’ve written here many times before, I’ve certainly witnessed and interacted with a few of the morons to whom the author is referring. And yes, I too will admit to having worn what Mr. Millar calls the Moron Helmet (as he himself did), a time or two. However, I believe upon reflection we were both quickly able to see the error in our ways. Not all morons are so self-aware.
I am sure Mr. Millar is heartened by Hockey Canada’s recent decision to ban body-checking at the Peewee level as this issue is likewise a central theme and perhaps the primary driver behind this book’s genesis. He resigned from his position as president of Hockey Calgary following a “moron” laced blog post he wrote back on April 30, 2012 out of frustration with his organization’s inability to pass the same body checking ban, which has now come to fruition. The entire book actually reads like an epilogue to the minor hockey news of the past couple of months.
In the book, Mr. Millar clearly and passionately talks about the importance of respect and fair play in hockey; two common sense notions not always ascribed to by the previously mentioned minority. He writes frankly about problems with misguided volunteerism, sometimes corrupt, elitist competitive hockey leagues and the need for coordinated top-down/bottom-up changes. With the Boy and the Devil having played rep hockey for the last 13+ years and having been involved with our local associations, hockey Momma and I can both readily relate to the points he’s raised. Sometimes you just shake your head and say, How the hell can that person do that? Don’t they realize how stereotypical they are and that everyone is pointing and laughing, whether quietly or out loud?
I applaud the author for writing this book and further illuminating major issues in minor hockey. Recent media attention would indicate there is something of a groundswell of change underway in the sport where body checking, concussions and parental behaviour are concerned. Many associations across the country are mandating parents take rinkside behaviour courses, with Windsor Minor Hockey being the latest. But I do challenge Mr. Millar’s assertion this problem is most prevalent in hockey. He states in the final chapter “It’s not present as much in other sports, or at all.” I beg to differ from past and recent experience. Just last weekend in my hometown the police needed to be called to a local soccer field to break up a 30-person parent fight after one soccer dad apparently hurled a racial slur at an opposing black family. I can vividly recall coaching the Boy in a rep soccer game at the age of 6 and witnessing an opposing soccer coach berating a player (I would realize later is was his own son no less) to the point of tears. In my very last post, I mentioned witnessing a kid/parent mini-brawl at a charity street hockey tournament. You need only watch a single episode of Toddlers and Tiaras or Dance Moms to see the height or, better put depth, of moronism in modern society in general. Apparently, Moron Helmets can be and are readily purchased at Walmart by any Tom, Dick or Mary. A growing disregard for respect is a larger societal issue. Moronic parental behaviour stems from a general breakdown in human morals. It’s not just a hockey problem, it’s a human problem. (Hang on a sec, is this me or my father ranting?). So what do we do about it? This is obviously a much bigger issue, but having people like Mr. Millar getting stuff out into the open for a sport like hockey, exposing the morons and empowering the rest of us to stand up to them out loud is a positive start. I certainly do encourage other hockey parents to give the book a read and then consider handing it to the next moron you encounter at a rink, field or dance competition.
Is it just me or is there more talk than ever about how badly my fellow hockey dads and moms are behaving? I, like most who have been to a minor hockey game or two, have witnessed hockey parent lunacy first-hand. And yup, I’ve seen a couple ejected from the building. With full disclosure I will readily admit I’ve yelled at a ref or two in the last 12 years, but I’d like to think I know where to draw a line where actual abuse is concerned. You would think by now these people would realize they’ve become walking/talking stereotypes, but the stories of excessive coach, ref and kid abuse of the verbal and sometimes physical variety just keep popping up year after year. Now it appears some jurisdictions have had enough and are seriously standing up and taking notice.
Hockey parents in Newfoundland and Labrador have just been told they need to take a course on respect on the heels of the same parental edict recently being issued in Edmonton. The number of comments around each article is testament to how contentious an issue this is. There are plenty of people who resent having to be punished for the actions of a few others.
Do you think this will curb bad rink behaviour? I get it conceptually, but not sure if it will really deter the primary offenders who will likely continue to be the boorish asses (yup, I said it) they’ve always been at hockey or otherwise. I’ve seen the same parents at minor soccer and junior football games. A more effective solution may be for Hockey Canada to sign on someone like PetSmart as a corporate sponsor get a bulk discount on muzzles. Or maybe more zero tolerance based permanent suspensions are required. I suppose, if nothing else, the associations who have taken their preemptive actions are putting a bigger spotlight on what is obviously a festering issue among arena dwellers; whether the courses serve to fix the the problem or not. Heightened awareness is generally never a bad thing.
Coincidentally, a friend just posted this great video giving a kid’s perspective on parents (not quite sure how I’d never seen it before. Now you would think something like this would have a lasting effect, but the video was made just over four years ago, there’s been plenty more written on the topic as noted and not much has changed.
Seems a couple of the items from my recent post with tips for new hockey parents was even more timely than I thought. Maybe if enough new parents are educated and reminded, yet again, that it’s just a game, it will start to sink in so the incidents we hear about each season are fewer and far between.
Chime in if you have any other ideas on how to cure Rink Rage.