Ad­just­ing a cul­ture

Hockey NL makes par­ent course manda­tory; hopes to build more en­joy­able en­vi­ron­ment

The Compass - - ORTHTE - BYMATT MOL­LOY TRANSCON­TI­NEN­TAL ME­DIA

Along with hav­ing ed­u­cated play­ers, coaches, and of­fi­cials, Hockey NL be­lieves it’s time to work on ed­u­cat­ing par­ents to help cre­ate a bet­ter hockey at­mos­phere for ev­ery­body.

To help achieve this goal, Mur­ray Roberts, vice-pres­i­dent and risk man­ager for Hockey NL, said the pro­vin­cial hockey board im­ple­mented a three-year Par­ent Ed­u­ca­tion Pro­gram that started last year.

Com­plet­ing the course was only an op­tion last year, but not this year.

Ac­cord­ing to Roberts, a par­ent or guardian of a first-year mi­nor hockey player will be re­quired to com­plete the course this year. If they don’t, the first-year player won’t be al­lowed to lace up the skates and rep­re­sent their re­spec­tive mi­nor hockey as­so­ci­a­tion.

“This course will be manda­tory this year,” said Roberts. “In the first year, we asked peo­ple to vol­un­teer to do it, and we had well over 100 peo­ple par­tic­i­pate. The sec­ond year, which is this year, we made it manda­tory for a par­ent of a first-time player (to take the course). Next year, we’re ask­ing a par­ent of all mi­nor-age play­ers to take the course.

“The ques­tion al­ways is, what if some­body don’t do it,” added Roberts. “Ba­si­cally, we’re mak­ing this a part of their reg­is­tra­tion. Play­ers are reg­is­tered pend­ing (a par­ent or guardian com­pletes the course). It’s the same thing if you reg­is­ter as a coach for us. You’re a reg­is­tered coach pend­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. As a player, you’re reg­is­tered pend­ing a par­ent’s or guardian’s com­ple­tion of the course.”

The course is loaded with in­for­ma­tion all par­ents should know be­fore they walk into a rink to watch their child play, in­clud­ing top­ics like safety and fan sports­man­ship, as well as out­lin­ing the roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the player, coach, of­fi­cial and fan.

Al­though the course is de­signed for par­ents, Roberts be­lieves it’ll go a long way in Hockey NL’s goal of re­tain­ing of­fi­cials and at­tract­ing more new play­ers.

“They (Re­spect Group Inc.) be­lieve peo­ple are not join­ing sports be­cause of the en­vi­ron­ment within the sport. Should you or I have kids that shouldn’t join some­thing be­cause of the en­vi­ron­ment? They join to en­joy the sport. We’re try­ing to pro­vide that plat­form. Maybe we’re tak­ing a big thing on and try­ing to ad­just the cul­ture, but if that’s the case and if that’s what we have to do, then that’s what we’re go­ing to do,” said Roberts.

“Throughout Canada, we lose ap­prox­i­mately 33 per cent of our young of­fi­cials, and we lose most of them through some­thing that’s deemed to be abuse of of­fi­cials. I can guar­an­tee you we are work­ing hard to find ways to re­tain our of­fi­cials, and if we’re go­ing to do that, we have to do ev­ery­thing in our power to cre­ate a bet­ter en­vi­ron­ment to be in.”

The Par­ent Ed­u­ca­tion Pro­gram, ac­cord­ing to Roberts, is strictly an in­for­ma­tion-based pro­gram. There aren’t any yes or no or right or wrong an­swers. How to spread the right mes­sage Ac­cord­ing to Roberts, Hockey NL spends a lot of its time deal­ing with the is­sues of par­ents.

So, to try and al­le­vi­ate some of that pres­sure, the gov­ern­ing hockey body in this prov­ince is hop­ing the ma­jor­ity of par­ents who at­tend games with the right at­ti­tude will be men­tors to some of the overzeal­ous par­ents.

“We find that we spend 99 per cent of our time deal­ing with one per cent of the peo­ple. Ninety-nine per cent of par­ents in all sports are good par­ents, and I like to call the other one per cent over en­thu­si­as­tic. The best way to get to one per cent of those par­ents is through the other 99 per cent,” said Roberts.

“What we felt we would do is, go with a three-year par­ent ed­u­ca­tion roll­out pro­gram, with last year be­ing the first year. We asked peo­ple from our branch to vol­un­teer to do this pro­gram, a par­ent of mi­nor­aged play­ers. Hav­ing said that, we had more than 100 peo­ple do it, so this year, we made it manda­tory for a par­ent of a first-time player to com­plete the course. In re­ally large as­so­ci­a­tions, the most we’ll get is maybe 60, 70, or 100 peo­ple. In smaller as­so­ci­a­tions, for the most part, that might only be 10 or 15 peo­ple.”

The course is avail­able on­line, and can be found by vis­it­ing www.hock­eynl.ca, and click­ing the par­ent pro­gram reg­is­ter link on the right-hand side of the page.

There’s a small fee to take the pro­gram, but $1 of that fee goes back to Hockey NL. mmol­loy@gan­der­bea­con.ca Twit­ter: @Bea­con­Sports12

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