With a deadline looming that could see their children in minor hockey benched, dozens of New Brunswick hockey parents got in under the wire to complete a new mandatory online respect course.
Starting this fall, parents of players aged four to eight were required to take the 75-minute Respect in Sport course or see their child benched for games and practices.
When the deadline arrived on Dec. 15, about 100 of the anticipated 3,400 targeted parents still hadn't taken the course.
But as word spread this week that players would not be allowed to participate if parents hadn't taken the course, the stragglers jumped on board.
Executive director Brian Whitehead said by mid-afternoon Friday, all but two of the organization's 3,400 booked access spots in the online course had been used.
The organization paid the $12 fee for any parent in the target group who took the course. But after 5 p.m. today, the parents would have to pay for the course themselves and seek reimbursement from Hockey New Brunswick.
Whitehead says that in recent years, the bad behaviour of parents has been out of control.
"It used to be the odd parent would holler at a referee," said Whitehead. "Then it escalated to parents hollering at coaches, parents hollering at opposing players.
"It just seemed the behaviour in the rink was not something we wanted to have around our game."
The 75-minute course is designed to tell parents what Hockey New Brunswick expects of them.
Whitehead said most hockey associations in Canada, with the exception of those in Ontario and Quebec, have staged similar mandatory programs in the last three years.
The program cost Hockey New Brunswick $50,000.
Wendy Ferguson has three children in hockey who are older than the players targeted in the respect course, which she heard about from parents of younger players. She wishes the course had been around earlier.
"It's important to remember that it is for fun and the kids are developing, and there's a huge social component to it and they're also looking at us as role models," she said.
John Ward took the course and said it contained valuable information about concussions. But he says the main message doesn't apply to the group watching his five-year-old's games.
"I have yet to see anybody where show any type of behaviour that could be considered addressed in that course."
Hockey New Brunswick says the course also works to protect on-ice officials from abuse. About 1,200 officials are needed to work games in the province and every year, about 400 of them quit.