Mandatory course meant to end hockey parent brawls

Hockey New Brunswick wants to eliminate off-ice brawls and threatening behaviour between parents by insisting they take a mandatory online course on respect.

Aggressive behaviour becoming more common among parents

Hockey New Brunswick wants to eliminate off-ice brawls and threatening behaviour between parents by insisting they take a mandatory online course on respect.

Parents are lashing out more often and it's becoming a problem, said Brian Whitehead, executive director of Hockey New Brunswick.

"Mostly it's the verbal threats, to the point where people are challenging others, 'Let's go outside and settle this,' that type of behaviour," said Whitehead.

"It doesn't help with our recruitment initiatives if I were to bring someone to a hockey rink to say 'Hey why don't you try this sport,' and they see parents acting like that — it's not going to do well for us."

Hockey parent, coach and referee, Rick Gaudet, says parents should be there to enjoy the game with their kids. (CBC)

Rick Gaudet has been on the receiving end of some of that aggression as a minor hockey coach and referee. 

"Some parents lose it, and it's sad to see, because, really, we're there for the kids, to enjoy the game," said Gaudet.

Whitehead said the organization can't expect parents to change their behaviour without doing something to change it.

Novice coach Luc Cormier wonders whether whether an online respect course for hockey parents should be mandatory. (CBC)

"All new participants would have to have one member of the family take the course. It would be administered through the Hockey Canada registry system, said Whitehead.

"When you're done the online course, you would check off your name and address and it would automatically feed into our database. We'd know who has and hasn't taken the course."

Dealing with personalities

Jeff Reid plays hockey and has coached his son in the minor league for six years.

"An afternoon or a few hours out of your day to learn a few things, you'd be surprised how much more educated you'd become, as a parent, as a fan," said Reid.

"A lot of times the parents don't have any idea what goes on, and what's involved from the players' perspective, from a coach's perspective, from a referee's perspective. So you're dealing with a lot of personalities."

Novice coach Luc Cormier wonders whether it should be mandatory.

"It will definitely help some parents, but it's too bad everyone has to do it because of a few people," said Cormier.

Hockey New Brunswick agrees it is unfortunate, but to keep the game fun for kids, it needs to be done.

The online course is expected to begin in the fall.