Don’t be a jerk when your kid plays sports

My six year old son experienced an important right of passage for any Canadian child this fall: he started playing organized hockey. Despite his questionable skating skills, we dressed him up in his brand new (very expensive…oh so expensive) equipment and sent him out onto the ice with a stick in hand. During the fifty minute practice, he spent about 47 of those minutes on his back or stomach. But that was four weeks ago. Today, he was flying around the rink looking for a chance to score. It’s incredible how fast children can learn new skills.


While it’s fun to watch him grow and excel, being a hockey parent is no joke. It’s early morning practices, both Saturday and Sunday mornings, it’s a lot of money (did I mention how expensive it is?), and there’s a ton of housekeeping that goes on to keep things running smoothly. One of the most important to-do items was completing the Ontario Minor Hockey Association’s Respect in Sport course, which one parent of each child playing hockey needs to complete. It took about one and a half hours and is mandatory. If you don’t complete it, your child doesn’t play. Simple as that.




The whole idea is to teach parents how not to be jerks at their kid’s sporting events. You know, things like “how not to scream at your child because you see it as a personal failure when they miss that important shot” or “how not to guilt your child into playing a sport they don’t want to play because it was your dream and you didn’t succeed” – a slight exaggeration maybe, but not far off. Seriously, do parents actually do this?


Apparently they do. I have yet to witness it (and goodness help me if I ever do) but I’ve heard of many incidents of parents getting into fights with referees over bad calls, assaulting other parents, or harassing coaches about not playing their child. I find it hard to believe that adults would not only embarrass themselves in this manner, but in front of their children.


But that’s what this course is all about – telling parents what’s expected of them, how abusive behaviour can affect their children, and how to be respectful at their children’s sports events. It was all common sense to me, but apparently not for everyone. Want to know how to be respectful in sport? Don’t be a jerk. Simple as that.

3 thoughts on “Don’t be a jerk when your kid plays sports

  1. All I can see in my mind’s eye is Joan Crawford a la “Mommy Dearest” messing with young Christina’s mind and self-esteem. I find it fascinating that parents have to take this course – fascinating from the perspective of what has our society come to that parenting is now being taught (finally!) as a course but only to parents with children in sports. What about dance moms? Pageant dads? There’s loads of parental projecting going on in the world. Yes, parents really do do those dreadful things. Sounds like you’re a rare, grounded and sane one. Bless you!

  2. Oh you better believe it. I don’t think I could ever get upset enough to yell at a kid or a ref but there are people out there. My ex boyfriends dad has been kicked out of games for yelling at the refs and getting into fights with other parents. It’s endearing in a way that he cares so much about his kid to yell and make a fuss but there a definitely better ways to show your kid you care.

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