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Hockey parents: Guilty until trained innocent

Hockey Winnipeg wants to have fewer YouTube moments in the stands of local arenas, so it's going to require one person from every hockey family in town to take an online tutorial about tolerance.

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Hockey Winnipeg wants to have fewer YouTube moments in the stands of local arenas, so it's going to require one person from every hockey family in town to take an online tutorial about tolerance.

After two adults dropped the gloves in front of eight-year-olds in a "dressing-room punch-up" last weekend, Hockey Winnipeg says it's going to teach everyone a lesson.

In a policy that sounds like it will soon be rolled out across the province, at least one parent from every hockey family will have to take a mandatory "Respect in Sports" course before they can start the season.

Talk about toothless.

Now, as I alluded in a previous post, I never played hockey as a child. Thankfully, given what I hear about hockey parents.

But I know a little about angry people (ever worked in a newsroom?) and I have a feeling this course is going to be a whole lot butt-covering, and do not a whole lot of good.

For starters, it's an online $12 course that can be completed in an hour. Forgive me if I don't think that sounds like intensive behaviour modification.

But the biggest problem, I think, is the presumption of guilt. Hockey Winnipeg — soon, perhaps, Hockey Manitoba — will essentially be telling all parents to take the course because of the actions of a very small number.

To be sure, sometimes massive training courses for everyone are the right approach: driver's ed, for example.

But not too many 16-year-olds would be able to get confidently behind the wheel without some teaching.

It seems like Hockey Winnipeg thinks that all hockey parents are the same way — they just don't know that respect is something that kids on the ice deserve (players and referees, who at lower levels are not that old either), and that a $12 hour-long course can fix that.

I'm now sure which I would consider more insulting: The assumption that I'm a disrepectful person? Or that a cheapo online course is all that's needed to fix me.

You want my solution? These parents who cause the problems basically think that their kid is the only one who matters. So hit them where it hurts — suspend their son or daughter. I'm serious — you're being disrepectful to a player? Or a coach? Or a ref? Your kid sits out the rest of the game. And the next.

Yes, this also punishes a kid who is not responsible for the behaviour of their parent, but I think it's by far the quickest way to change parental behaviour.

And guess what, kids? Life ain't fair. You will REGULARLY be held responsible for the behaviour of others that you can't control.

Besides, any parent who complains that this is hurting their kid has only themselves to blame.

Plus, I have a feeling if they are that belligerent and disrespectful in the stands of a hockey game, their kids are feeling the heat already. This would give them a reason to stand up to their angry parents and ask, "Why can't I play?"

And if that shame doesn't do the trick, well, a $12 online course won't either.

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