This past weekend both of my sons were playing in the Canlan Summer Meltdown Tournament in Toronto. I was watching two 2004 teams in my son’s division play before my own 2004 son (remember, these are 7 and 8 year olds) took the ice. One team was clearly dominating, up 5-0 after the first period when they stopped counting goals on the scoreboard. I believe it ended up somewhere around 10 -0. That sometimes happens at these tournaments – teams end up entering in the wrong divisions and they are mismatched.
I think at this age, typically, kids can avoid being completely deflated if the goals are not put up on the board. Parents can usually take it too, I’ve found if tact and sportsmanship is used (and I’ve been there, trust me). What both kids, and especially parents on the losing team cannot take is when parents of the stronger team continue to cheer for each and every goal like it is a 7th game overtime winner in the Stanley Cup playoffs. As our parents watched, that is exactly what we witnessed several (not all) of the parents on the dominant team, which prompted me to post this comment on our facebook page:
“Note to parents…when your novice team is up by 10 goals, stop cheering like maniacs for every goal…”
Based on your reaction (over 200 of you “liked” the statement and many left very strong comments in a very short time), I realized that this is a bigger issue across the country than I thought. It sounds like it is unfortunately NOT the exception to the rule.
So, Hockey Moms, consider this a public service announcement. When your team us up by several goals (and the consensus seems to be a 5 goal lead) it’s time to tone down your cheering – substantially. Most of us believe that one benefit of youth hockey is that it teaches sportsmanship, and when you continue to cheer loudly for every goal, your own sportsmanship comes into question.
Many of you noted that loud cheering when you are clearly ahead is fine if it’s for a child who has never (or rarely) scored. I don’t disagree that deserves some big celebration. But if you do it, it’s probably a good idea to let the other team’s parents know that the kid never scores (they’ll usually understand), or even wait until after the game and make a big deal about it then. They kid will still be pretty jacked after the game. And of course if it’s a first goal, the parents of the child will probably go insane, as they should. But that’s a lot different than ongoing group cheering by the majority of parents on a team.
For the record, we did end up playing both the teams we had watched in that mismatched game. When we played the weaker team, my son actually scored a bunch – more than he ever has before actually. I cheered a bit for his first goal, a golf clap for his second, and I don’t think I did anything other than a silent smile and thumbs up when he skated by the glass for the next three. I was happy for my son, but I got absolutely no pleasure from the tournament format which forces teams to run up scores since a tie between teams in the round robin is broken based on goals for and against. And, the coaches on our team did try to adjust to make the game more “even”, moving the forwards who had scored (including my son) to defence for the last half of the game. It’s hard to tell young kids not to try (and I don’t think they necessarily should be told that) but I definitely respect coaches who will make those adjustments to make the game a little more competitive, especially at Novice.
For the team that had won that initial game and who had the obnoxious parents, we played them twice. The first time we lost, and that one hurt, because of course everyone wants to beat the team with the obnoxious parents. But, our parents lost with class, cheering for a good game for both teams. We ended up playing this team again in the semi-finals, and I have to tell you, beating them out and sending them packing was all the more satisfying because SOME of their parents had been obnoxious in a one sided victory against a much weaker team, and because they were also obnoxious in defeat. Perhaps my next public service announcement will be directed at parents who cheer when their kids get blatant and dangerous penalties – coincidentally, it’s usually the same parents.
So, have a heart, hockey moms, and keep that cheering in check when it’s a blowout for your own child’s team. The self-esteem of children, and the good will of the opposing team’s parents, depends on it.
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