At first glance, the idea to ban parents from local hockey rinks may sound ridiculous.
But the idea was floated last week when a Vancouver Island minor-hockey association announced they were considering banning people from the stands for an entire weekend, as a way to send a message to incorrigible parents and others who frequently squawk at, and berate, referees, coaches and players.
On second glance, it may just be a good idea. Because throughout the province – and no doubt elsewhere – there does seem to be a problem.
Last week, Penticton parents ended up in fisticuffs with fans of an opposing team at a tournament in Salmon Arm. Earlier this month, a Burnaby hockey dad was given a conditional discharge and 12-months probation after threatening a nine-year-old minor-hockey player.
And last November, a restraining order was placed on a woman who was allegedly harassing the Kootenay Ice junior team, as well as the National Hockey League’s Detroit Red Wings, with regard to her sons’ hockey careers.
While these incidences pop up from time to time, there have been few documented cases here on the Peninsula in recent years.
Back in 2009, police were called to South Surrey Arena – and a game cancelled – after fights broke out between supporters of a Semiahmoo midget team and a travelling squad from Montreal.
More recently, Semiahmoo Minor Hockey launched a Respect in Sports program to curtail such behaviour, and many rinks throughout the Lower Mainland have code-of-conduct signs prominently displayed.
But perhaps even here in South Surrey and White Rock, having a no-spectator weekend – or even simply bringing the idea of one to the forefront – would be considered a way to put things in perspective for parents, coaches, and others who frequent our arenas, football fields, gyms and soccer pitches in support our area’s young athletes.
While competing in front a supportive crowd can be rewarding in itself, the players, first and foremost, are out there to make friends and have fun playing a sport they love.
It is considerably less fun, one would assume, when you have to embarrassingly hang your head because your parents are screaming from the stands or sidelines.
For the sake of all involved, a friendly reminder now and then to keep it classy is never a bad thing.