Parents at games are too much

Is this even about your child at this point?

Illustration of a person in a sea of screaming parents on the bleachers.
ILLUSTRATION: Christina Cao / The Peak

By: Isabella Urbani, Sports Editor

I’ve never seen as many physical altercations as I have at a children’s hockey game. You would think parents would be supportive of their children, perhaps even a bit concerned for their safety when they’re skating on blades. But no, it’s the complete opposite. 

Some parents have zero regard for their children’s safety or enjoyment. Despite still learning how to skate without falling over, parents coach their children, very loudly, from the bleachers — and it’s never done through positive reinforcement. It’s always to shamelessly point out their children’s mistakes as if that will motivate them to make the correction. Parents shouldn’t even vocalize their children’s mistakes in the first place. It’s up to kids to work out certain kinks in their games, no matter if their parents have any playing experience or not.

If you want to have a conversation with your child about their game, do so in the privacy of your car, and not right in the open. It’s bad enough that your kid has to be subjected to this treatment, let alone have a crowd be witness to it. There’s also no use in reminding these parents that this is a children’s game because they adamantly believe National Hockey League scouts have a record of every single game their children have won. 

These types of parents make the game horrible for everyone involved. They berate the officials during the game, the coaches who try to help their child succeed, and the parents on the other team who try to calm them down. The last thing they respond well to is people trying to calm them down. It’s like inviting them to take their anger out on you in the form of cheap shots, entirely forgetting about their children’s game in the first place. I can tell you right now, your child doesn’t even care about this game as much as you. No one does. 

It’s natural to want to see your child succeed, but overly invested parents do more harm than good. At this age, not every single player is looking to go professional or has the slight inclination to do so. They’re kids after all! This should be something fun they look forward to on the weekend after school. The last thing they want is to feel the pressure to perform to a certain level to make their parents happy. It not only puts a strain on the relationship between a child and their parents, but on the child’s relationship with the sport itself. 

Growing up in and out of the rink, I think overbearing parents act like this to project their childhood insecurities and shortcomings onto their children. Their children are an extension of themselves on the ice. They see each loss their children experience, big or small, as their own failure. Because hockey players typically don’t receive agents until they are at least teenagers, it’s up to parents to act as their own children’s “agents.” And up to that point in their life, there isn’t much agent work to be done. Children typically play on teams located closest to them. But some parents truly believe their children’s success is attributed to the choices they make and the teams they put their kids on. 

It’s sad that what starts from a place of well-being can escalate into something bigger than the game itself. If you find yourself yelling anything other than cheerful excitement during a hockey game, particularly a child’s one, check your emotions. Go for a walk. As a fan, I acknowledge that you can become that immersed in a game, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for your actions. Remember why you’re at the game in the first place, and who you are there to support. If that doesn’t make you reconsider your actions, I don’t think you should be watching in the first place.