Please don't call this the ugly side of minor hockey, because all too often, this is minor hockey.
A video that captures fans and parents punching it out in the stands during an Ontario Minor Hockey Association bantam C playoff game on Saturday is spreading across social media. During the third game of a championship series between visiting Six Nations and host Tweed, parents from the rival teams were exchanging words in the stands following what the YouTube poster Jane Hockeyfan described as "a huge brawl on the ice." The roughness on the ice spilled over into the stands, where it appeared at least a dozen people were pushing and shoving in a corner of the arena, with punches being thrown.
Here's the video (warning: foul language).
One doubts that anyone involved here is a terrible person in everyday life. But put people in confined space and the exasperation just gets pent up to the point of becoming a powder keg. Yet such aggression is essentially condoned when it happened in a hockey rink. Not because hockey is the national game and rinks house our defining myths, but because the easy way out is to to be all head-in-the-snowbank and pretend there isn't something wrong when a bunch of average teenagers can't play a game without fighting, and when their adult role models cannot act like adults. This started with boorish behaviour on the ice, remember, but where did the young teenagers learn it?
There needs to be an open dialogue about that, not feel-good, mush-mouthed, race-to-the-bottom pandering nonsense about creating a National Hockey Day. Or just do a 180 and turn it into a reality TV series. Cashing in on a societal problem is always an option.
Sorry for soapboxing.
It's brutal. The cost of registration fees, ice time and equipment are the most commonly cited reasons for why minor hockey participation is declining. Another is that parents and children are voting with their feet for other activities ... ones that don't involve being guilty, by association, of idiocy. Behaviour such as this is killing the sport.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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