The Ontario Women’s Hockey Association is warning its members to stay away from a website dedicated to amateur hockey because it believes overzealous hockey parents are insulting players and coaches in online forums.
Network 54 is a website that hosts free online forums, including many sports-related discussions. Hockey officials say it's a valuable resource for those involved in amateur hockey — scores and statistics can be posted on the site, and it's often used by parents to organize the logistics of road trips and tournaments.
But the association says cyberbullies have recently taken to the site — targeting everyone from players and parents to coaches and officials in the girls’ minor hockey community.
“We've had parents call to say their girl is traumatized, even to the point of being suicidal, because of things written on Network 54 that she feels is about her,” said Fran Rider, president of the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association.
Rider said coaches have quit, urging others not to volunteer for women’s hockey because the bullies are writing vitriolic comments about people and including their names, which could later show up in a Google search and damage future employment opportunities.
“It’s anonymous. There’s no accountability to these sites. Anyone can put anything on there. There’s no necessary base of fact,” said Rider.
Parents at an Ottawa minor hockey game who spoke with CBC News spoke agreed with Rider, saying they support the group's push to avoid posting on Network 54.