Friday, 15 February 2013

Reality Check Time

If it's Friday on Hockey Blog In Canada, you know there's a story that will make you shake your head. I always get wind of these stories late in the week, and I'm starting to get a little bothered by some of them. The public service advertisement on the left is entirely appropriate because I want to present a hockey dad today who should probably take a long look at himself in the mirror and realize that being an ass is something that no one appreciates. Thanks to the magic of video, we have proof that there are certainly some parents that make your amateur hockey games a little more toxic. I'm not happy or proud to present this video, but it needs to be seen in order to have this discussion.

I want to preface this video that it is NSFW thanks to the cursing this gentleman does. The man in question is Selkirk, Manitoba resident Jason Boyd, but I'm not here to shame him nor am I here to call him out. He apologized for his actions through the mainstream media already, and I'm comfortable that he has been shamed enough already. But the video needs to be seen in order to have this discussion about actions of parents and fans at games.

Wow. I don't know this gentleman and I probably wouldn't recognize him if he walked by me on the street, but the line "Don't touch me, or I’m gonna cave your f$%king glasses in" is quite reprehensible considering it was that man's son who our parent-in-question was insulting. What shocked me, however, is that this sounds like a common problem with this gentleman since the cameraman alludes that he specifically brought the camera to capture this man's actions.

First off, any check to the head in any Hockey Canada-endorsed league is an automatic penalty because you cannot target the head with a check. If the player who took the check was, in fact, a "midget", larger players cannot throw a check on him where his head would be one of the points of contact. Therefore, the check to the head on a smaller player DOES warrant a penalty because someone on Mr. Boyd's chosen team doesn't understand how to check or doesn't understand the rule. The fact that Mr. Boyd justifies that it shouldn't be a penalty because the hitter is bigger is EXACTLY WHY IT IS A PENALTY! Bigger players cannot target the head of smaller players for safety reasons!

Mr. Boyd's claims of "it's a big man's game" also are going to fall on deaf ears. Sidney Crosby, Daniel Briere, Pavel Datsyuk, Patrick Marleau, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Martin St. Louis are all examples of why hockey is no longer a "big man's game". Sure, it may have been before 2005 as teams bulked up and drafted all sorts of monster-sized players as they kept up with the Joneses around them, but today's game is about speed and skill. The "midgets" are the men who are responsible for a lot of scoring in the NHL today, making it hard to justify the logic behind the "big man's game" comment.

What really brings this whole debacle down a few notches is that Mr. Boyd is issuing threats and tossing out insults while holding a baby. I'm not saying that people can't be fired up when holding a baby, but your priorities are pretty messed up when you have something as precious as newborn baby in your arms and you're threatening to cave people's glasses in. Again, I'm not passing judgment on Mr. Boyd as to what kind of father he is, but this is not something you want on a father-of-the-year application.

A few people in the Winnipeg hockey community that I spoken to have said that this isn't the first instance of Mr. Boyd acting in this manner, and that he has been a problem in the stands in the past. While I'd like to believe these are isolated incidents, many isolated incidents are a trend. This is not a trend of which one should be proud.

I will say that by posting this video to the internet, there's a good chance other bullies - yes, BULLIES - may see this and remember it the next time they feel the need to fly off the handle at an amateur hockey game being played by teenage children. Here's the dose of reality that Mr. Boyd and other bullies at the rink need to hear: there's a pretty good chance that none of these players are going to the next level, so why lose your mind over a penalty called on a future beer leaguer? Stop being an ass. Start cheering all of these kids and their efforts. Teach the player who was whistled for the head-check to check properly. Show him how to pin smaller players to the boards. In other words, help the penalized player be better rather than displaying your machismo and making an ass of yourself for the entire world to see.

Mr. Boyd, I appreciate the fact that you apologized for your actions. It takes a bigger man to admit he was wrong, and I hope that, for the sake of the baby in your arms and your son on the ice, that these incidents are, in fact, isolated incidents. As stated above, this is not a trend one wants to carry with one's self.

I hope this video serves as a lesson for everyone. It's just a game. It's a game like Monopoly, Scrabble, tiddlywinks, or badminton. I hope for the sake of everyone around him that Mr. Boyd isn't threatening to cave someone's glasses in when they put a hotel up on Boardwalk or drop a triple-word score. That would indicate a big problem. If it doesn't happen there, it shouldn't happen in amateur hockey, either.

Relax, man. It's just a game.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

UPDATE: The CBC reports that Mr. Boyd has now been suspended by the Lord Selkirk Minor Hockey Association for the remainder of the playoffs pending a decision by Winnipeg Minor Hockey. Well done!

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