We have been seeing an increasing amount of inappropriate behavior at MAHA games over the last year. This out-of-line behavior is being exhibited by on-ice participants and also parents and spectators in the stands. You would not tolerate this type of behavior from your family members, in your home or at your place of employment. That leads me to wonder why anyone thinks it is appropriate in public, at hockey games?
Recently we have had a couple of very severe instances of abusive language and behavior toward players and officials reported. Officials have been threatened and verbally abused because they made a call someone did not agree with. Players have been abused because it was perceived they did not play well enough or smart enough. This behavior is unacceptable and needs to stop immediately. In case we have all forgotten, this is youth hockey.....a kid’s game. Our kids and players are supposed to be having fun.
We have a zero-tolerance policy that prohibits the use of obscene and vulgar language; and also intimidating, inappropriate or disruptive behavior that interferes with the game or those that came to participate or just watch and enjoy the game. In my opinion this policy has not been adhered to as well it should be, which has helped lead to an escalation of these type of events.
These types of abusive, violent and disruptive behaviors certainly do not make the game enjoyable for the players, coaches, officials or spectators. We are seeing players and officials leaving the game because it is not fun to be involved in these types of situations.
As 2017 is upon us, I ask that we as a hockey family all resolve to better our behavior this year. I am asking that we hold each other accountable. When you see something out of line on your team, remind your team members of the correct behavior. If you feel the need to report participants from another organization or team, take advantage of one of the reporting methods we have for reporting the behavior you observe. I am asking the officials to be more diligent in their efforts to enforce the zero-tolerance policy during games as well.
Let's make 2017 a more desirable and rewarding experience for all our participants. MAHA games, practices and events are a place to have fun, learn and develop both hockey skills and life skills. Let us all work together to make this the year where we eliminate the negative behavior that discourages those things and encourage each other to provide an environment where others can learn, develop and have fun.
Happy New Year!