New course mandatory for parents before hockey season begins
Respect in Sport program teaches patience, tolerance and realistic expectations
By: By Ryan Tumilty
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 15, 2012 06:00 am
Before the action hits the ice this fall, Hockey Alberta is sending parents in St. Albert and across the province on a quick course.
For the first time, the Respect in Sport program, an hour-long online course, will be a mandatory requirement for hockey parents, before their children hit the ice.
At a cost of $12, one parent or guardian of a child has to take the course, but it has to be taken only once. There is no requirement for parents to take refresher classes before each season.
Hockey Alberta is joining a growing number of associations that have made the course mandatory. Coaches and referees had previously been asked to take a similar course, but Jeremy Haluschak with Hockey Alberta said parents are also an important part of minor hockey.
“They all are pillars of the game to making it enjoyable for the ultimate participants, the children.”
Haluschak said the program, which focuses on bad behaviour in the stands, tries to give parents an insight into their own actions and coping skills to make sure they handle themselves appropriately.
“We are just trying to raise the awareness and give people the tools that can help them make the game more enjoyable for everybody.”
Wayne McNeil, the co-founder of the company that developed the program, said they decided to create a parent course after working with coaches and referees who said it was necessary.
The course teaches parents to set realistic expectations for themselves and their children, to help keep the game in focus.
He said too many parents see a future for their children in professional hockey or U.S. college sports and that is simply not the reality for most players.
“Those types of unrealistic expectations lead to all kinds of issues that parents have to deal with and certainly issues that young players and athletes have to deal with.”
One of the tools the course encourages parents to use is the 24-hour rule. It encourages parents who are upset by a coach's move or a referee's decision to bite their tongues until they are sure something is actually worth bringing up.
“We have had some people jokingly say that we should make that the 48-hour rule, but the reality is that it does work,” said McNeil.
The online course has segments with former hockey players, sports psychologists and referees. It was developed with former NHLer Sheldon Kennedy, who is also co-founder of the company.
Rob Taylor, a hockey parent and the novice director for St. Albert minor hockey said the program made a lot of good points when he took it.
“It is a good overview, it helps people keep things in perspective.”
Taylor said some parents weren't exactly eager to spare an hour of their time for the program, but when they take it they find it useful.
“The feedback has been pretty good, they saw some things in it that maybe you wouldn't have thought of on your own.”