There’s a disturbing trend sweeping the landscape in minor hockey.
No, it’s not over-kill rules that don’t allow pats on the head.
It’s not punching the glass while wearing the Green Lantern’s magic ring.
And no, it’s not even hand-signals from the crowd.
It’s people referring to hockey parents as ‘crazy’. I’m tired of it, and you should be too. You know why?
Because you’re crazy too.
It seems as though parents and coaches are all too comfortable referring to others as crazy when they themselves aren’t directly affected by the situation. We paint the majority of the hockey community with a brush that we wouldn’t be caught dead painting ourselves with because we’re never wrong.
We know what’s right. We know the right way to act.
Well, it’s wrong.
It’s easy to throw stones if you don’t live in a glass house, right?
Well, ask yourself: have you ever done or said something others might consider crazy?
The hockey world is ripe with fear. People are either afraid to speak up because of repercussions for their children or they’re afraid to be labelled with the crazy brush.
This is crazy!
Whatever happened to good ol’ fashioned communication? I’ve had more than one meeting with parents in tears this hockey season, but these meetings are nowhere near my conscious thoughts when I interact with their children. A parent could punch me in the face and I wouldn’t take it out on their child.
(Please don’t punch me in the face.)
Parents who disagree with your views or your opinion aren’t crazy. Maybe they’re ignorant, maybe they’re blind, maybe they have an axe to grind with you, but come on, it’s ok to disagree, right?
Hockey parents are obsessive, compulsive and occasionally delusional - does that make them crazy? Or are they just committed, passionate and outside-the-box-thinkers?
Parents say it, coaches say it, scouts say it and kids say it to deflect any attempt to understand where the perceived craziness comes from.
Why is that parent crazy? Why did that dad punch the glass? It was hilarious and I’m never one to suck the fun out of something hilarious, but do we actually believe he had pre-formed malice in his heart?
Or did his mind simply go blank when he saw his daughter get kicked while being held down by a referee who was clearly in over his head?
Either way, the reality is that people snap and they shouldn’t be allowed in the rink until they understand that hockey players wear equipment for a reason.
What would you do?
Do your kids refer to other parents as 'crazy' at the dinner table? Do they know that you have the capacity to be just as crazy but you just find a way to quiet the noise and refrain from acting out?
Labelling someone as crazy shuts your mind off, not theirs.
Look, I’ve met hundreds of parents in the past 14 years coaching and teaching hockey. I’ve worked at three different hockey academies, 5 different summer hockey school companies from Seattle to Winnipeg, I’ve run hockey programs for a massive national corporation and I’ve coached in two major Canadian cities at every level from initiation to major midget. Players I’ve coached play in the Western Hockey League, every tier 2 junior league in western Canada and a couple are creeping their way onto National Hockey League rosters.
And I can think of 3 parents off the top of my head I consider to be delusional people I don’t ever want to speak with again.
Wait, there was the guy a month ago screaming at his 12 year-old in warmups before a game, "GO! GO! LET'S F&**ING GO!"
So, four. Still! Out of hundreds!
Alright, hockey parents aren’t crazy, got it.
Now, for the parents who are crazy:
Stop arguing with other parents in the crowd.
Stop yelling at referees who are two years older than your team’s players.
Stop yelling at your child like they’re a rodeo clown existing purely for your amusement.
You have no idea what goes through their minds when they’re on the ice. They have no idea what goes on in their minds when they’re on the ice.
Everyone else, stop contributing to a narrative that’s threatening a takeover on the world’s most important game.
Be friendly. Be respectful. Be understanding. Stop punishing other parents for navigating the choppy waters of being a minor hockey parent in a way you believe is incorrect.
And for the love of the hockey gods, stop living your life vicariously through your child.
Remember, it’s ok to disagree with people from time to time.