Warning: this post contains foul language (not mine).
One of my boys, James, played in a minor bantam hockey tournament over the weekend here in Ottawa. The semi-final game was wildly entertaining – and in the end James’s team, the Ottawa West Golden Knights, won 3-1 over the Whitby Wildcats.
As many parents and grandparents can attest, watching minor hockey is generally a blast – but there are frustrating aspects as well. The dirty hits. The post-whistle nonsense in front of the net. Hearing I’ve Got a Feeling on the tinny arena loudspeaker for the 3,205,276th time.
But in my eight years of sitting in the stands, the guy who’s always bothered me most is Apoplectic Coach – the coach who’s always complaining, always hollering at the ref, slamming the door, waving his arms, and who isn’t afraid to drop the f-bomb to make known the magnitude of his profound dismay with the many wrongs being perpetrated against himself and his team by the officials, by the fates and by society as a whole.
To some extent, Apoplectic Coach has become an endearing Canadian stereotype – the obnoxious tyrant whose abuse we condone or at least tolerate because “his heart’s in the right place.” But I’ve grown weary of him. I’ve seen too many tantrums.
If you doubt the influence of Apoplectic Coach on his players – on your sons and daughters – I invite you to read what I’ve posted below. It’s the Game Incident Report from the semi-final against Whitby, as filed by the referee. (For the record, I’m sure that as game reports go, this one is pretty tame. I have no doubt there’s been way worse.)
1. Section 1 (which I’ve not included) deals with a penalty assessed during the game against one of the players on the Knights.
2. I’ve removed the name of the coach and the names and numbers of the players on the Whitby team. This isn’t about shaming one man. But ask yourself: would we as parents accept this kind of behaviour from any other adult in a position of authority? From a Scout leader? From a teacher? In a society that’s suddenly united against bullying behaviour in schools, why do we allow it from certain coaches?
3. These kids are 13.
Here is the referee’s report, beginning with Section 2:
2) After the game was finished, the Head Coach of the Whitby Wildcats [name removed] started to yell at me and my linesmen from the bench as we were standing between the benches awaiting the player of the game announcement. I was trying to ignore what he was saying as they had just lost and are certainly disappointed they were eliminated from the tournament. However, he persisted and said “Hey Ref, you are a fucking disgrace to this game.” I decided to assess a Game Misconduct as per rule 9.2(a) – a minor penalty shall be assessed to any player or team official who challenges or disputes the rulings of an official during the game or who displays unsportsmanlike conduct…Note: a referee is not required to assess a minor penalty under this rule before assessing the Misconduct or Game Misconduct, but may assess either of these penalties initially. I assessed a Game Misconduct as this was profane language and was a personal insult towards the referee.
3) After the game was finished, Whitby Wildcats [name and number deleted], started to bang his stick against the boards and yell at me. As per Situation 2 mentioned above, me and my linesmen tried to ignore the comments from the Whitby bench. [The player] yelled “you fucking suck ref” and I assessed a Game Misconduct as per rule 9.2(a) with rule explanation as described above in situation 2.
4) After the game was finished, Whitby Wildcats [name and number deleted] started to bang his stick (similar to [the player] listed above) and yelled “Yeah, you fucking suck.” I assessed a Game Misconduct as per rule 9.2(a) with rule explanation as described above in Situation 2.
5) After the game was finished, Whitby Wildcats [name and number deleted] continually slapped his stick on the ice and yelled “nice game ref, you fucking idiot.” I assessed a Game Misconduct as per rule 9.2(a) with rule explanation as described above in situation 2.
6) After the game was finished, Whitby Wildcats [name and number deleted] stood on the blue line awaiting the player of the game awards yelled “you’re a fucking retard ref.” I assessed a Game Misconduct as per rule 9.2(a) with explanation as described in situation 2.
Note: situations 3-6 occurred after their coach made his comments. At no point did any of the coaching staff try to quiet their players down or tell them to stop yelling at the officials. It was in my observations that the coaches did not oppose the harassment of the officials as situations 3-6 took place over the course of 20-30 seconds, all within earshot of the Whitby bench. There were no further issues or confrontation after the teams left the ice.