EDITORIAL — Hockey parents aren’t the only nuts in the bowl

Andrea DeMeer writes about nutty parents in sports, not just hockey

A recently published study by a Harvard sociologist finds that while all parents may be slightly crazy — and indeed, crazy parent is arguably a redundant tag — hockey parents are the nuttiest.

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to support such a claim. That said, having sat on the sidelines of innumerable youth competitions — everything from hockey to track and field and even indoor rowing — I don’t believe any one sport is worse than another when it comes to moms and dads losing what little is left of their minds.

Sure, anyone who has spent much time in arenas can tell hockey horror stories.

One year the DeMeer boys played on a team with a troubled youngster whose father recorded every game, and then reviewed the video for his son in the lobby. You should have won that foot race. You were out of position. You should have passed here. You should have shot there.

I wanted to videotape the father, showing the video to his son, and then play it for him in front of the rest of the parents. You should have pointed out he made a great play here. You should not have used that tone of voice there. You should not be allowed to own a video camera, or a pet, or a houseplant. You should have a vasectomy.

Violence in minor hockey is not limited to the ice and the players. Dads attack coaches at the concession stand over ice time. Moms trip players from opposing teams as they enter the dressing room. Once I witnessed a very respected businessman from the community hurl a full cup of Tim Hortons coffee at a referee, hitting him in the head.

Another afternoon a mom from our team leaned forward and whispered that she had just taught her child the trick of getting the end of his stick up and inside the chest protector of another player, in order to get a better shot at cracking his ribs.

“It’s my birthday today,” she confided. “I told him that could be his present to me.”

The only time I was personally assaulted at the arena had nothing to do with hockey. It was my first and only experience with competitive figure skating.

In many ways figure skating is the opposite of hockey. Hockey parents push the kid farther, and harder. Make the team with most A’s attached. Play at the highest level.

Figure skating moms and their coaches have a different strategy. They often hold a skater back divisions so he or she can skate against a less challenging field and have a better chance of reaching the podium.

There is an intriguing comment on our differing approaches to the genders in there, somewhere.

At one figure skating competition our home club asked me to be dressing room captain. It is the captain’s job to greet incoming skaters, get them settled in their assigned rooms, confirm ice times and generally direct traffic.

I was backed against the corridor wall by pushy, bleach-headed women. An especially aggressive mother tore the clipboard from my confused hands. She ripped off her daughter’s room assignment and thrust the clipboard into my midriff with painful force.

Any study that claims hockey parents are the craziest of all sports moms and dads underestimates the passions surrounding sports in other cultures. In other words, it’s quite a “white” assertion.

In Ontario the eldest DeMeer son played competitive soccer. At these games it was easy to appreciate that many parents regard soccer with the same intensity some of us are used to experiencing only at the rink.  And their behaviour is no better

The most surprising stress I ever experienced at a competitive youth event was during a chess tournament. Sure, everyone has heard about those out-of-control chess parents.

The youngest of the DeMeer offspring could routinely beat me at chess when he was in Grade One. As the local school district offered a chess club he got involved in tournament play.

At a youth chess tournament parents are allowed to stand behind their children, as close as they want, although they cannot speak and they cannot touch the players.

During one match I observed a small man hovering over his son’s shoulder, and he simply vibrated. He made subtle jerky motions, like a nervous passenger.

The sweat poured off father and son and the attempt at telepathy was so apparent it was practically audible. The tension at that table was a real, living, breathing thing. Dad scribbled notes. Inside he was screaming and banging on the glass.

Twice in elementary school the DeMeer whiz kid qualified to play at the provincial championships. Twice he declined. He said playing chess like that was “no fun.”

Praise be. Maybe competition really does teach kids something other than that their parents are crazy.

Andrea Demeer is the associate publisher/editor for the

Similkameen Spotlight and Keremeos Review – both Black Press newspapers.


Just Posted

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

(Black Press file photo)
EDITORIAL: Curtailing attempts at scams

The true total of losses from all scams and frauds could be much higher than the figures on file

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

(Drive BC photo)
Vehicle incident closes Highway 3 east of Osoyoos

Drive BC says to avoid the area until the road is clear

Osoyoos chef Murray McDonald was ecstatic upon realizing he scored the $1 million guaranteed prize in the June 2, 2021 Lotto 6/49 draw. (Contributed)
Osoyoos chef ecstatic after bagging $1 million Lotto 6/49 win

Chef Murray McDonald was at home and ready to doze off to sleep when he got a text from his wife

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Former Kamloops security gaurd wants job back after kicking incident caught on video

Rick Eldridge quit when a video surfaced of him kicking a man outside a facility for homeless

People participated in a walk to honour the 215 children found at a former Kamloops residential school, as well as residential school survivors. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Kelowna marks National Indigenous Peoples’ Day with walk to remember Kamloops 215

“Let’s speak the truth and deal with the truth, and heal.”

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

A home on Cameo Drive sustained major damage due to an early morning fire Monday, June 21. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
UPDATE: Fire sparked during Vernon home renovation

Heavy black smoke from Cameo Drive home, no one inside

The new Civic Memorial Park will incorporate pieces of the 80-year-old arena it replaces. (Artists rendering)
Pieces of Civic Arena reclaimed for new Vernon park

City centre space to incorporate wood from the historic arena

Most Read