Friday, October 21, 2011

The Maven on "Ravin" Parents

     First comes the lecture;  "Parents, please,"  the certified parent instructor starts off, " No yelling at the refs, keep your cool, and remember it's only a game"....etcetera, etcetera.  Then comes the cheesy, but valid  videotape showing examples of parents behaving badly in the stands and during those car rides home after the game.  In one scene, the dad actor tells his kid all the things he did wrong in the game, and not to listen to the coach.   Then there's the mom who nags the coach because she doesn't think her kid gets enough ice time.  There are plenty of other examples, and maybe a few of them ring true.  The videotape ends, and the discussion begins.   A discussion that may not go on for very long, seeing how everyone seems to be on the same page, at least when everyone is in the same room.   Finally, the promise. We put our signatures at the bottom of a form each year, promising we'll behave ourselves in the stands during games, or else.  We might even take a moment to think about how we may have shouted something fairly unkind at the ref during the last game when he "made that bad call."  My kid didn't mean to stick his leg out while that other player was speeding by with the puck.  How could that ref think that was intentional?  He didn't see what that kid did to MY kid.  Forget your glasses ref?  You know those moments.
   So much for our promises and code of conduct once the games begin.  Fortunately, for most of my children's games,  even when intense, they've been enjoyable, with no hard feelings. That's even after some pretty hard losses. I can't say that for all the games though.   I've also had the unfortunate opportunity to witness parent behavior take the elevator ride down. Way down.  How low can it go?  Really low.  From listening to mouths loud and big enough to have their own zip codes, to insults being hurled at kids, to threats being made.  Sickening.  Yes, it can be difficult to watch refs blow calls, see kids turn into thugs, seemingly with the bulls eye on the back of your kid's jersey. You've got their number, right?  We've heard parents yell that out too.
                                                              TIME OUT!
There's no room for thuggery in youth hockey on the ice, and certainly, not in the stands.
Stan Fischler  "The Hockey Maven"
    But you're dealing with human emotion, human error, and the passion parents have for their kids. That's a lot of ingredients that doesn't always blend when mixed into a heated hockey pot.  Despite all the lectures, promises and cheesy movies, some parents still don't and won't get it.   Stan Fischler, The Hockey Maven, has a few thoughts on the subject.  Here's an excerpt of my recent interview with the Emmy winning hockey journalist, and author or more than 90 books.
    " It's not the same, when I was growing up.  My parents didn't watch me play football, they didn't watch me play stick ball.  You went outside and you played,  We never had a coach.  One of the things I find kind of sad, and it's because of the way life has changed, is that parents are always at these games. Having gone through this myself, with a soccer playing son, parents can be more of a problem than anything! The way I would do it, I would  take the parents and put them somewhere in a luncheonette until the game was over.  That's an idealistic kind of a thing. It's not reality, but I've seen too many situations personal and otherwise, where parents get too involved. "
   Extreme, radical and unrealistic? Certainly.  But, Stan makes that preposterous pitch because that's how ridiculous it's become, at times.   Of course no one would vote for the parent extraction solution.  Especially when it comes to hockey.  We invest a lot of time and money in this sport and there's tremendous satisfaction and reward from watching our children battle it out on the ice.  Plenty of life lessons are learned there too.  Good and bad.  I would, however, like to hear a little less and see a lot more tolerance among parents who have an opportunity to score for their kids while in the stands, by setting good examples and showing them the right way to behave.  Call it a win-win.

 Next week, Stan's NHL picks for good  role models for our kids. 

   Stan Fischler, known as “The Hockey Maven,” serves as the resident hockey expert for MSG Network and MSG Plus. Every week he can be seen on MSG Networks’ comprehensive hockey show “HOCKEY NIGHT LIVE” where he provides pre- and post-game features and reports for the Rangers, Devils and Islanders. In 2011 Fischler collected two New York Emmy Awards, one for his weekly -American from 1955 through 1966. Over the last four decades, Fischler has written for many publications, including The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Sport Magazine, Newsweek and Hockey Digest. With the help of his wife Shirley, Fischler has authored or co-authored more than 90 books on the game, including The Hockey Encyclopedia.

Follow Stan on twitter!!/StanFischler

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