‘Boys of junior hockey or college age aren’t exactly known for making the best decisions ever, and with everything else going on in the world right now, everyone is trigger happy. With seasons starting to get rolling, those rookie fines and rookie dinners are happening. This junior hockey court is usually news to the rookie parents, and depending on where they are coming from and where their player is playing, they might even be experiencing a little sticker shock. Throw in a rookie dinner, and that might just send someone over the edge.
Now, I get it. I’m a single parent, so I’m not exactly rolling in the money, but I had my freak out at home and let my kid worry about it. I wasn’t happy about it, but he said it was no biggie and only a buck or two each time, and on that particular team, the fines stocked the fridge in the locker room with drinks and snacks. I let it go, but kept my ears open in case there were more serious hazing incidents. Honestly, this was better than how it was in youth and high school hockey by a mile. I considered this kangaroo court to be pretty subtle hazing.
In the comments section of a few recent news articles, I’ve seen many defending the practices as tradition meant to build the sense of camaraderie. I see a few problems with that logic, though. First, just because something used to be viewed by society as okay in the past doesn’t mean it’s okay now. It used to be okay to own other human beings as slaves, but that’s illegal now. Hazing is definitely covered under SafeSport, so not only could there be USA Hockey consequences, but if you happen to be in one of the 44 states in which it is actually illegal, there could be legal consequences as well.
I’ve also seen many in the comments sections state that if a parent calls the team out on the carpet for this practice, their player will be punished in some way. Unfortunately, most of us know that to be a true statement. Either the player loses out on future opportunities because he has “that parent” or the team finds out, and they shun him, or things get much worse in some other way.
To me, this means the kids aren’t likely to speak up about it because they are made to feel powerless by this bullying, and if parents can’t say anything, whom does that leave? The coaches who think it’s tradition because they went through it?
I think this one needs to fall on the coach’s shoulders. Remember, kids this age aren’t really known for making the best decisions, and it only takes one idiot who takes things too far or one kid to snap or one parent who hears about this on a day when they’ve had to do the work of 3 people because two more are on furlough. What if those parents who snapped call law enforcement or USA Hockey? It only takes one idiot to end a season, and that is truer this year than it has probably ever been.
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