Don’t treat hockey players like wimps

Derek Montague
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If you’ve kept up with Labrador news, there’s a lot of talk of hockey and its competitive factor. There’s Goose Bay’s senior team’s struggle to ice a team (thank God they will at least play two home games against Lab City), and Keith Russell being criticized for getting over heated while coaching his son’s team.

No one is saying Keith Russell shouldn’t be criticized, suspended or any other action that might be taken by Newfoundland and Labrador Hockey. There’s no question Russell will be suspended, and most will say he deserves it. In hockey, swearing at an official is unacceptable under any circumstance. Russell’s actions as a hockey coach came under public scrutiny because he is an MHA for Lake Melville. As a public figure he has to expect to be put under the microscope, no matter where he is, or what he does.

Many people expressed their displeasure in Russell’s antics and his bad word choices and how it affected the lives of 14-year-old boys.

 Surely these poor innocent TEENAGERS have never seen an angry person or heard such foul language. How will they live the rest of their lives? How will they ever play hockey again?

If you think Russell’s language was unacceptable, walk into a junior high school during recess, the language you’d hear from these 13- and 14-year- olds would shock you. Whether they hear swearing from an adult or a peer on the ice, they won’t be learning anything new.

It’s ironic to hear parents being offended by a coach’s behaviour. Have you ever sat in the stands during a minor hockey tournament? There’s always several dads and moms shouting and swearing. And the parent’s wrath isn’t relegated to just the referees! They yell at coaches, players, their own kids, other parents, and probably the guy selling chips at the canteen. With all the intensity and passion surrounding these kids on the ice, it’s doubtful they’re shocked when they see an inflamed coach escorted off the ice.

If you think Russell’s language was unacceptable, walk into a junior high school during recess, the language you’d hear from these 13- and 14-year-olds would shock you. Whether they hear swearing from an adult or a peer on the ice, they won’t be learning anything new.

A sport like hockey can instill a healthy competitive spirit in a kid. It teaches them how to work towards a goal and work with others in a team environment. It teaches them dignity and self-confidence. For any parent to think hockey is just for the kids to have fun, why spend thousands of dollars on registration and equipment? They know full well that their child has a dream to play in the NHL. That’s why hockey is competitive. That’s why they keep track of the score, and their child’s stats.

Kids wont remain kids forever. They will be adults, and adults live in a competitive world whether they like it or not. If a child voluntarily puts himself in a competitive environment, he will be prepared when that kind of environment is forced upon him in later years. Adults compete for jobs, lovers and dance partners. Adults who prefer to play it easy, who don’t have the confidence to compete against others, will be on the short end of life’s hockey stick.

By Derek Montague

The Labradorian

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  • Gregrun Olfson
    December 19, 2012 - 03:10

    Wow, Mr. Montague opinion can't be more wrong and his examples can't be more flawed. In hockey there is a rule against misconduct towards a game official and comes with suspensions. With the new Repect in Sports rule, even parents are now held responsible for the same behaviour. As a coach over the past 5 yrs there have been many rule changes and we have to adapt to them. With his reasoning should we allow all rules to be broken because no 14 year old was affected? How does he know none were affected. By age 13, 70% of kids quit hockey (Hockey Canada Stat) because the game becomes less fun for them and the main reasons are parents and coaches make it less fun. Surely Mr. Russell's action didn't make it more fun for the two teams or the spectators. Like other people who are in a position of authority (teachers, instructers and coaches of other sports) we are held to a higher standard. Imagine a swim coach swearing at an official or a driving instructor going off on a road rage tyrant. Sure kids hear swearing everywhere, not just at school but that doesn't make Mr. Russells actions any more acceptable. Do we hold all actions that the kids are subjected too at school ok, like bullying? reckless driving? fighting? alcohol or druguse? etc. I know in my years of working, competing for lovers and dance partners, confidence was helpful. I missed his point on how having an authority figure lose control had any bearing? but I'm not sure how witnessing an act of immaturity in the past helped and thinking that it would be acceptable now at work or with my home life wouldn't go over well at all. Especially being a figure of authority at both.