Monthly Archives: June 2005

Sporting Behavior

Seems everywhere in the media these days you can’t help but stumble across story after story of parents and their bad behaviour at their kids sporting events.

This one, however, is really poor. A 10-year-old Ontario boy is suing his minor hockey league for $10,000. The boy says he was demoted to a lesser team because of a dispute between his Dad and the league. The details for the CBC site are scant, but apparently the association claims that the boy’s father was “aggressive and confrontational,” used “inappropriate language” and acted in a way that was “inappropriate, unwelcome and unbecoming of a parent.”

If this story has played out the way I think it has, then this dad is using his kid as a pawn in some kind of Napoleonic inspired legal power play between himself and a minor league. The way I see it, a 10 year old doesn’t decide to sue unless their parents put them up to it. So, what kind of message is this dad sending to his son? If you don’t get your way, cry, pout – and sue until you win.

My Dad coached me in minor hockey, and one thing I always appreciated about him was the fact that he never tried to vicariously live out any misplaced NHL ambitions though me. I never felt my Dad’s involvement in my hockey life was for Dad, but rather for me. It sent the message that my Dad was interested in me. And through his involvement and interest, he taught me valuable lessons about fairness, team play and the enjoyment of the sport.

Maybe it is just because it is in the news and popular media so much these days, but I can’t help but feel there has been a swing in the purpose of sports in a young persons life. Have goals like fairness, team work and enjoyment of the sport been sucked out of the world of organized sports for kids? Is the only point of organized sports these days to get kids to the big leagues?

I really want The Girl to be involved in organized sports at a level that is enjoyable to her, but I also worry that we will end up on a team full of Dad’s like Dalius Butrimas.

In the meantime, let’s end off this sport talk on a positive note. A program using basketball to get fathers more involved in their children’s schooling drew more than 125 men into parenting workshops in Rochester, NY. The program seeks to reach fathers of children in city schools who are estranged from their children’s mothers, separated from their children and face a myriad of personal and often legal barriers to being better parents.