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The Good Ol' Hockey Parent
By Nikki Ryan, SNN Editor, Roncalli Central High, Port Saunders, NL

The perception of a minor hockey parent seems to have filled two varying stereotypes, each of which is determined by an individual's experiences and exposure to the minor hockey system. While one portrays a hockey parent's extreme dedication and selflessness, the other chooses to highlight the overbearing attitudes held by a minute portion of the hockey parent population. Unfortunately, the governing body for Canadian amateur hockey seems to have mistaken which of these depicts the true description of a minor hockey parent, and have therefore chosen to entitle the latter as a "typical" hockey parent.

For all those hockey fans who devotedly turn their television to the local sports network to watch the current games of interest, it is nearly impossible to miss the commercials created by Hockey Canada which labels a minor hockey parent as a success-craved individual who gains their social stature through their children's achievements. Although we must not fail to sympathize with those amateur players who do have to face the pressure to play to a certain degree, can we honestly justify these commercials who have tried to evoke sympathy from us for a child who participates in minor hockey, while at the same time dubbing their parents as the "villain" of the sport? The answer, without a doubt, is no. Only those individuals who have traveled to the rink at five o'clock on a Saturday morning and sacrificed their own luxuries to provide the funds required for their children to participate in the sport can truly recognize the definition of a typical hockey parent. For those other spectators whose impression of a hockey parent becomes tarnished by the sole individual pressuring their child to improve their performance during the Friday night game, it is unethical to think that this exposure to the sport will allow them to appreciate the utmost selflessness possessed by a hockey parent.

These commercials, which are intended to negate parental pressure in minor hockey, have taken two different forms, yet neither has failed to develop an inaccurate and damaging profile of a hockey parent. Last year, the campaign entitled "Relax. It's Just a Game." expressed the opinion on the subject through commercials that used what they considered a reverse in roles between the child and parent in which the child hounded their parents leaving the parent in a very awkward and embarrassing situation. This year, however, the commercials have taken a different form, displaying a parent becoming abnormally competitive in a meaningless child game such as ‘pin the tail on the donkey' and potato sack racing.

During a previous episode of Coach's Corner on CBC, Don Cherry, a well-known hockey commentator and hockey icon, voiced his opinion that these commercials are discriminating hockey parents and labeled them as "sickening." According to www.canoe.ca/Slam031125/nhl_ads-cp.html, in an interview following Mr. Cherry's comments, he stated, "I'm a hockey grandparent, and my daughter is a hockey parent and I don't like the idea that somehow or other the word ‘hockey parent' has become a dirty word." Cherry's powerful comments, which reminded us of the ignorance possessed by these commercials towards the admirable hockey parent, received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback. "I was out last night at a minor hockey game and I have never had such a positive reaction in anything I've done in 23 years on Hockey Night in Canada. More so than the war, more than anything that I've done," he stated a few days after voicing his opinion. "I had parents coming up to me, talking to me and saying ‘thank-you,'"stated Cherry.

After Cherry made it clear to the millions of viewers and fans tuned in to Hockey Night in Canada on November 22, 2003, that, in his opinion, these commercials were nothing more than a bitter insult to anyone who has fallen under the category of a "hockey parent," Hockey Canada began to defend their campaign. According to Yahoo!Sports, http://ca.sports.yahoo.com/031126/6/vo4y.html, Bob Nicholson, Hockey Canada boss, commented, "We know that 98 percent of people are great parents and coaches but we have to find ways to get to that one percent."

Hockey Canada has made a major mistake in believing that the appropriate way of getting to that "one percent" is by making a hockey parent look like someone who should be interrogated instead of honored. If Hockey Canada actually do believe that a hockey parent is someone who deserves more than to be portrayed as a competitive lunatic, why haven't they incorporated these views into their ads?


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