A Calgary-designed course aimed at promoting better behaviour in coaches and parents at minor games seems to have the support of its participants.
Respect in Sport's one-hour online course has been mandatory over the past three years for hockey parents and coaches in Alberta, as well as in other parts of the country. More than 91,000 parents and coaches have completed the course across Canada.
Mount Royal University surveyed 1,000 participants about the course. Of those, 70 per cent believe the course should be taken more than once. Only eight per cent of those who filled out the survey opposed the program.
“We're human beings. We want to win,” said Sam Bouguslavsky, who has a son in AAA Bantam. “So we bring that emotion forward in a good way, sometimes not in a good way.”
There is value in repeating the course, he said. “It does wear off, so maybe there's a need to bring it back on a regular basis and have a form of reminder for what it really means.”
Hockey Calgary steps up program
Hockey Calgary executive director Kevin Kobelka said the organization is listening to the response from participants.
“We'd like to not be the parent police, but want to make sure that our kids are in a safe environment and respected,” he said.
Right now, only one parent in the house has to take the course. That will likely change, while parents and coaches may also have to be recertified after two or three years. The organization is also looking at ways to hold parents more accountable for their actions and to offer an online course for new players.
Players say coaches, parents calmer
On the ice at Edge School for Athletes in Calgary, hockey players say they have noticed a change.
“I've seen it get a little better,” said Grade 12 student Chris Westlund. “I think they just figured out it's not worth it … yelling at the kids' game.”
“Before, coaches would lose their heads. Now I think they know you can't be doing that,” added Grade 10 student Codie Cross.
Though Hockey Calgary calls the program a success, the organization doesn't have any hard numbers to prove parents and coaches are better behaved in the arenas.
For program co-founder Sheldon Kennedy, the difference is made once the puck drops.
“They've seen a reduction of disciplinary hearings among parents. I think a lot of them are nipped in the bud before they even get to them,” he said.