01.19.2013 02:52 PM


I’m not one of those parents who yells at my kids’ hockey games. It’s supposed to be for fun. None of the kids – none of them – are ever going to play in the NHL. So I generally keep quiet, unless I see a child get hurt.

One of my sons has a coach who sends lengthy, preachy emails, talking about “respect” for the coach. Then, at games, the boys get sworn and yelled at. By the coach.

The other son is a goalie. He gets scored on and gets pulled, instantly. The other goalie gets scored on as much (or more, as today) and stays in.

The worst part about kids’ hockey is never, ever the kids.

It’s the grown-ups.


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    Chris says:

    My kid is not even two yet and I am already agonizing over competitive sports – I’m hoping he just won’t want to play, but I still feel obligated to expose him to it.

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    kit says:

    Yes it’s too bad that some coaches and parents haven’t learned the lessons that team sports are suppose to be for kids. As I told my youngest son’s hockey group “I’d sooner watch grass grow than sit here and watch kids being abused and yelled at by coaches and parents” right before we quit team sports.

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    Thomas Gallezot says:

    Unless the problem is hockey itself. What a dumb sport.

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    Cath says:

    Some coaches who feel the need to berate players are often living vicariously though their own failings as a athlete. I’m not one for yelling at a coach in public, but I would have NO problem, seeing as though I’m paying for the privilege of my child playing organized team sports, to raise it privately with the coach, IF my child felt it was bothering him/her.

    The fairness of playing time is something they usually cover in beginner Coaching Certification courses.

    If it’s supposed to be fun rather than competitive coaches need to make that distinction to parents and players. Competitive and skill development is something VERY different IMO.

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    Monica says:

    Absolutely. Have experienced both kinds.

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    dave says:

    Decades ago in my town, letter to the editor form a local parent. For some reason his kid could not play hockey. He looked around. His kids had a friend who was bowing, and lobbied the guy successfully. He took his kids out to join kids bolwing. He said he found there everything you want for your kid: team mates cheer for you, opponents cheer for you, kids competing their best, everybody enjoying it, encouragement and values constanty from the coaches/ adults in charge.

    I guess in some sports, like hockey, maybe the kids won’t be pros, but some coaches and refs want to rep temas and to other coaching positions.

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    Bloody Bounder says:

    Is the hockey coach in question a highly competitive, aggressive, jockish, bullying, ALPHA WHITE MALE
    tough guy complete with a square jaw and a brush cut out of curiosity?!

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      Ed Frink says:

      I agree completely. There should be more diversity and sensitivity quotas in hockey coaches.

      Alpha white males are most likely over represented as hockey coaches because there is institutional bigotry in the profession.

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    Bloody Bounder says:

    You are quite correct about it being the adults who are the culprits, Warren. I like Hockey as much
    as any Canadian, and I think that the vast majority of kids just want to play the game and have a bit
    of fun on the ice. However, many of the Hockey parents as well as the coaches place highly unrealistic
    expectations upon the kids to win at any and all costs. Many of the Hockey parents I see are obese brutes
    who seem to live vicariously though their own children’s athletic prowess. It is vile and disgusting to say the

    Many of the Hockey parents and coaches do not seem to care whether or not the kids are even enjoying
    the activity in question and quite often bring a great deal of anger, competitiveness, aggression, malice
    and even brutishness to the spectator stands. I have personally witnessed both Hockey parents and coaches
    alike literally berating little children in public over the fact that they did not win or play hard enough,
    complete with the use of profanity and shouting. It is quite arguably child abuse in many cases.

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    reformatory says:

    sounds like the coach must be a tory?

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    Peter says:

    This is the downside to a wildly popular national sport. There is so much gold and glory awaiting the successful that it attracts a lot of immature, even near sociopathic, man-children to run it. Plus to be fair, a lot of good coaches would tell you tales of constant criticism, pressure and interference from idiot parents. It can descend into a co-dependency situation between dysfunctional coaches and dysfunctional parents. Also, it’s the sport of choice for many of the kids, who also have dreams, so how much “protecting” from these excesses should a parent indulge in? You’ll see the same syndrome in the States with baseball and football and in much of the rest of the world with soccer.

    I’m a big believer in the benefits of competitive sport (or dance, theatre, music, etc.) for youth. They deliver maturing, discipline and social skills to most players, but there is no doubt that, starting around ages 12 & 13, the time, financial and psychological pressures become very onerous for both the kid and his/her family. How many young teens really benefit from months of dryland training and power diets? A lot of very talented kids in their mid-teens drop out because it simply isn’t any fun anymore. The best thing a parent can do if they see a young teen suffering is either switch to a house league or try to ease them into another sport.

    Still, we should be careful of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I’ll always remember the parents who, when I asked why they and their son devoted so much time and money to his hockey, replied that they figured they had a choice. Their son could spend his time hanging out around hockey arenas or around shopping centres and they preferred the former.

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    Bruce A says:

    Red Storey once said that arena doors should be locked to keep the parents out. He should have included coaches. The most fun I had playing the game was on the outdoor rinks. No parents, no coaches. Just imagination. The kids today are overcoached by too many people who aren’t going professional either. It’s all about bragging rights in their local beer parlour.

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    Jeff says:

    Sorry your son has to endure this WK, but unfortunately, I agree with you 1 million per cent about the problem. The highlight was getting laced into at a hockey game because I asked a parent surrounded by a half dozen pre-schoolers to stop swearing at the referees and the players on the opposing Pee-Wee team.

    I think that Red Storey was onto something …

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    bobfrombob says:

    Just as a bad coach can make hockey a horrible experience for kids, a great coach can make it a truly rewarding, enjoyable and valuable experience. My son played lots of hockey growing up and although he had a few adequate coaches, he was lucky to never have a truly bad one. And he was lucky enough to have a couple of really excellent coaches who not only made it fun, but actually taught him some important lessons.

    My daughter was not so lucky. She had a couple of crap coaches and it really ruined those seasons for her. I can sympathize. The “you should coach yourself” argument is not bad, but in my experience, a lot of the truly bad coaches are there through hockey parent politics and are incredibly hard to get rid of – they will be there forever.

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