Sunday, December 17, 2017
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ARE HOCKEY FIGHTS SENDING THE WRONG MESSAGE?

$1.00 hotdogs and all the popcorn you can eat, in a suite at Jobing.com Arena! Can any night get better than that?

Just a few nights ago, 6 couples from my church went to a Phoenix Coyotes hockey game; Coyotes vs. the Blue Jackets from Columbus.

I am not an avid hockey devotee but the 12 of us had a meeting and this suite just came up as a gift from someone. So, our choices were:

1. The typical meeting at one of our houses with spaghetti being served, or

2. The once in a lifetime opportunity in a suite at the arena with $1.00 hotdogs and an endless supply of popcorn?

Let’s go Coyotes!

The suite was awesome with a few tables that we pushed together so all 12 could gather around. And of course our big bucket of popcorn.   The noise from the crowd, the loud buzzer and the music being played during the intermissions for the zamboni made it somewhat challenging for us to hear what was being said, but come on, for an endless supply of popcorn…. it was worth it.

Our meeting was moving along fine when the crowd erupted with a burst of enthusiasm. We got up and rushed over to the ledge of our suite to see what all the excitement was about.

What else, but 2 players throwing down their gloves and knocking each other senseless while all the other players and referees stood back and just watched. I know this is hockey at its best. It was what I saw next that made me feel a little uncomfortable: little boys with their dads cheering and shouting with excitement as they encouraged the fighting players to duke it out.

Then it hit me like a puck right between the eyes. Aren’t we supposed to be teaching these kids sportsmanship, and that we don’t work out a disagreement with our fists?

Are we sending these kids mixed and confusing messages?

Are these fighting professional players going to be the coaches at a hockey camp that you send your kids to? How will they define sportsmanship or explain how to settle a difference of opinion?

What about in baseball, should we encourage our young kids to “charge the mound” when a pitcher hits them with a wild pitch?

In basketball, should we encourage our kids to throw a retaliating elbow back at their unsportsmanlike opponent?

Do we teach our kids how to “accidentally-on-purpose” kick the shins of their soccer opponent while making it seem that they were really going after the ball?

If we allow bad attitudes to be justified, then at what point do we justify cheating? Is this the next step?

The thought is a bit mystifying… will we send our kids to a hockey camp put on by professional hockey players who will be teaching and modeling life sportsmanship, character and positive attitude… yes, until someone makes him really mad!?  Huh?

I know that we as parents are the ones who get to guide and help our kids filter what they see and hear.  My hope is that what we teach at home will be reinforced through sports and the athletes.  That may be an idealistic dream.  I guess it doesn’t hurt to put it out there.   It makes for good dinner discussion anyway.

The ironic part of this evening was that our meeting was working with marriages and conflict resolution. “Hey, can someone pass me the popcorn?”

If you have questions or comments for Tom Kuyper, email him at: tomkuyper@kidsandsports.com

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