September 27, 2020

BY RYAN BOWMAN

Behind every minor hockey player in Canada – up to 400,000 in any given season – there are hockey parents.

And while their duties range from chauffeuring to cheerleading, the guardians behind the glass can occasionally take their role as spectator a step too far.

In recent weeks, a pair of separate off-ice incidents have shifted the spotlight to the stands and exposed the dark side of our national sport.

First there was Jason Boyd, who was attending his 15-year-old son’s hockey game at Winnipeg’s Southdale Community Centre.

When a player on the opposing team fell to the ice following a body check (a hit which resulted in a penalty for a headshot), Boyd berated the injured player, repeatedly calling him a “midget.”

After Boyd was approached by the father of the kid on the receiving end of the hit, he threatened to “cave his (expletive) glasses in.” The entire incident, which was caught on tape, went viral on YouTube. One of the most shocking details of the footage was Boyd holding a baby in his arms.

Closer to home, a Cambridge man allegedly assaulted an official at his 17-year-old son’s game at Preston Auditorium on Feb. 10.

In this case, the parent allegedly grabbed a linesman and pushed him against the wall after a player on his son’s team was escorted off the ice. The accused, it turns out, is Const. Neil Moulton, a 12-year veteran of the Guelph Police Service.

And while these incidents may be extreme, what makes them so disturbing is that they’re far from isolated.

According to Todd Cook, president of the Lord Selkirk Minor Hockey Association, outbursts like Boyd’s are all too common.

“We can’t go on in hockey with the way it is right now with the fans and everything else,” he told Global Winnipeg. “We have to put a stop to this somewhere.”

Not only does it embarrass and humiliate their kids, it also goes against the values sport is meant to teach. How can we expect our next generation to learn sportsmanship, leadership and respect when we behave like children ourselves?

When it comes to supporting our amateur athletes from the stands, it’s important we act our age – not our skate size.