I was at a hockey game yesterday (Yes, hockey in June...hockey parents are a little off!), and I saw something I had never seen before, and I hope to never see again.
The local high schools here play in a summer league where checking is not allowed. It is designed to get the kids a little more ice time, as well as get incoming freshmen used to the faster play. My stepson is making the transition to freshman hockey, so this is an opportunity for him to play with older boys.
When we got to the rink, another game was going on. It was borderline physical, but without any real hits. At one point two players collided, and the one who did not fall was given a two minute penalty. No big deal.
Toward the end of the game, with one team (Team A) up 6-4, the leading team had a penalty called for checking. The penalized player went to the penalty box. The player that was knocked over took a swing at the first player. No penalty was called.
With 30 seconds left in the game, Team B scored a goal, and Team A's penalized player came out of the penalty box and back on the ice.
When the game ended, and the teams lined up to shake hands, Team B's player, still reeling from being checked, made a beeline toward the player from Team A. He hit him in the back with his stick, and took a punch at him. Then all hell broke loose. Players from both teams jumped each other, and the referees had to wrestle the two original combatants apart. At one point, they had team B's player pinned to the wall.
They then made a terrible mistake. Instead of forcing the player off the ice, they simply let him go. He then made another beeline toward Team A's player, but was tackled by other players from Team A before he could get there. Now, in addition to the referees, rink security officials were on the ice trying to sort through the mayhem.
Then, I saw what I had never seen before. The player's parents came out onto the ice to drag their son off. What amazed me was there didn't seem to be a bit of embarrassment on the player's mom's face as she took her kid to the locker room.
If that were my kid, there would be hell to pay.
Parents, remember, you are your kids' first coaches. Teach them to play, but teach them sportsmanship as well. Teach them the rules, but teach them teamwork.
I contrast this with what happened at the Ohio State High School Track Championship yesterday as well. One local sprinter was favored to win the 10o, 200, and 400-meter dashes. He won the 200 and 400, but finished second in the 100. Instead of lamenting how he missed a rare triple, he was more concerned that the loss of points would cost his TEAM the TEAM title.
His teammates come through, and they did win the title.
A just reward for putting the team first.