The Situation Room – Kudos to Hockey Edmonton for suspending unruly parents

Mac Olsen
Hockey parents, you are warned – there is zero tolerance for verbal abuse and threats against referees.

Last month, Hockey Edmonton dealt with a number of parents who became verbally abusive with referees. There was even an incident where the police had to be called in because threats had been made against several referees during one game.

Some of the parents received multi-game suspensions, while others have been barred from attending their children’s games for a year.

President Mark Doram issued a statement in an email about the incidents. The following comes from website:

“Those involved lived up to what people think of as the ‘typical hockey parent,'” Doram said. “This type of behaviour puts a black eye on our sport, but puts you in the spotlight as well.”

He also offered his thoughts about the impact such incidents have on officials’ willingness to stay in the sport.

“We lose a number of officials every year because of threats made by parents and coaching staff towards them. We can’t afford to lose these folks; they are an integral part of our game. Many of these referees are young people and we need to remember you are an adult and need to conduct yourself in a more mature manner.”

Kudos to Doram for sending a clear message that such conduct is inexcusable and cannot be tolerated. And kudos for issuing the suspensions that he did.

And I’m sure the children of the parents who received the suspensions don’t feel good about the situation either. It’s too bad that their parents won’t be able to see them at their games, but Doram was right for taking the action he did.

I’ve been to plenty of minor hockey games over the years and seen how some parents act. It’s not a pretty sight.

I remember covering a minor hockey tournament in Kamloops, B.C. in early 2001. At one of the round-robin games, some parents absolutely berated the referee for the calls he made.

Sadly, no action was taken against those parents for their vile conduct. And it made me think, what incentive did that referee have for staying in the game if that kind of abuse gets heaped on him again and again? It would certainly discourage others from contemplating their participation in the sport.

Yes, some parents want their children to succeed in the sport, feeling that they have the potential to move up the ranks. And yes, it’s understandable that they can sometimes get frustrated with their children’s performance and some of the calls made by officials.

But when incidents like the ones in Edmonton happen, then it’s time for those parents to step back and think about what they’re doing. Not only are they making a spectacle of themselves, they’re also imposing a negative impact on their children that could result in them not wanting to play anymore.

In the end, does your misconduct get your children any further ahead in the sport?

And, who are your children playing for – you or them?

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