Hockey, loved by many…by the players and by their parents. But the love is different. For the players it is being on the ice and playing the game. For the parents, that love gets clouded. Most parents are so one-dimensional when watching the game. We watch our kid as if they are the only one on the team making all the plays. We do not watch the game from the game perspective. We are not watching how the plays are developing, we just see our kid not getting the puck or not scoring, etc. Oh how it is never our kids fault. And please parents do not approach coaches with questions/complaints immediately following a game. I see parents going up to coach with their little note pad asking why my son only played X amount of minutes each period and showing their +/-stats. Really!
Over the years I have seen all different types of “hockey parent” personalities. Some good, some bad, I am guilty of being both good and bad as a fan in the stands. Over the years we had a great group of parents we were a family and as you know traveled in packs. We sometimes had more fun than the players. And oh yeah, sometimes (in the stands) more fights than the players. Don’t get me wrong we were a good group of people, we were business owners, professionals, and hard-working parents. But yikes, did we have our moments in the stands! Including one time we had an all-out brawl in the stands. I am not one to back-down or keep my mouth shut when parents from the other team are acting like asses. I am usually not the instigator but if you keep pushing me with your arrogant behavior, then watch out. Hockey Mom arrives and it is not pretty.
Our core hockey mom group was all for one and one for all, if one got involved in the altercation, we all joined in, we protect our own. Oh the good ‘ole hockey game. What can I say, we had passion for the game. We supported each other and each other kids. We celebrated each kid when they had a great game and supported each other when they had a bad game. But at the end of the day, we were proud of our kids for playing the best they could. Funny thing about Hockey Moms, some of us do not even understand the game, so we just pretend to. We cannot give pointers to our kids on how to play better, do this better, skate this way or shoot this way. We were there to watch our kids play the game they love. Live the dream as they say. The last thing our players want is pointers from mom.
Oh, but then there is the parent that is really horrible to their kid, you know the parent, the Dad, that has their kid signed with the NHL by the age of 6, in their own head. Do not get me wrong, we all have that fleeting moment of…..hmmm what if….. But you need to let your kid have the dream and the passion, you cannot have it for them. Parents…..news flash, it is not your dream. If you make it your dream, they will be trying to do it for you instead of themselves. That never ends well.
I remember one time watching younger players practicing on the ice before my son’s game. When that practice was over, I watched a little boy with a big awesome grin come off the ice, he was so proud of himself. He runs to his dad to share his joy and before the boy can even share that joy the dad lays into him…. Dad starts yelling at the boy, you know his son, he proceeds to point out everything he did wrong and how he can do it better. It was like watching a balloon deflate, no actually more like a balloon popping. It was so long ago, but for some reason I will always remember that boys face and how the dad totally missed a “dad moment,” does it really matter how he did, I think the boy was like 6 yrs old. I doubt that boy is even playing today. Shame on you dad for missing that moment to hug and embrace the happiness of your child.
Fast forward to Junior Hockey. Yikes, some of you get worse! I see the parents jockeying to get their kid noticed by scouts, schools, Jr Coaches, etc. Parents you do know that hockey is a small world. If you are truly a difficult parent, and yes I would even agree that some of you are extremely difficult, then your kid is labeled, because of you. They may want your player, but have to consider that you (the parent) come as the baggage with the player. Forcing them to take another player, who is just as good, because they really do not want to put up with you …..The difficult parent!
Dad….just stop! If your kid has the passion, the knowledge of the game, the training and conditioning, he will get noticed. You are doing more harm than good by trying to “help,” you’re not helping you are holding your kid back and burning many bridges along the way. You can give your player the means to succeed and get to his goal by supporting them with encouragement. For sure, you need to support him financially with all a hockey player needs to get bigger, better, stronger. But you do not need to circle the scouts, the coaches, the advisers like a shark and use people to get to where you think your kid should be. If your kid can truly play the game and trains hard and works hard, it will pay off.
Oh, I say dad, because from what I have experienced, he is usually the ring leader and living vicariously through his son. You know who you are, you tried to make it in your sport as a kid and did not make it, so you will go to any means to get your kid to make it.
Stop, just stop and let your player’s talents and love for the game shine through. You are robbing them of opportunity, if you continue to be a difficult parent.