VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As some of Canada’s World Junior hockey players caught some harsh criticism on social media following a quarterfinal loss this week, it served as another look into the darker side of the culture of the sport.
It can start at an early age through a slightly different lens.
Matt Bell, 19, is a youth hockey official in Stratford, Ontario, and recently posted an open letter on Twitter.
He described getting some nasty verbal feedback from one parent in particular, and is trying to remind everyone that hostility in the face of something you don’t agree with isn’t the best way to go.
A message for hockey parents everywhere. pic.twitter.com/Lw7AMaIEoL
— Matt Bell (@mattybdoesntrap) December 28, 2018
Sean Raphael, the referee-in-chief for the B.C. Amateur Hockey Association, says much has been done to take that kind of thing out of youth hockey.
However, he admits it still exists.
“There’s going to be some of that negative feedback, frustration,” Raphael tells NEWS 1130. “People maybe not understanding what the officials are doing when they’re right, or not understanding the human component to it — that they are going to mistakes and how to appropriately, maybe, address their frustration when they see somebody maybe make a mistake.”
While some of the verbal abuse on and off the ice can be extreme, Raphael says everyone needs to continue to work to phase that element out of the game.
“If we want to eliminate checking from behind or head injuries, and we implement rules to address them, overnight the philosophy doesn’t change, right? It takes time to condition it into what the new expectation is. And we maybe need a little bit more focus on what that expectation is of conduct.”
Work is ongoing to try and address the issue, he adds, however, Raphael says sometimes it’s still easy to forget where the line is.
“I think it’s just a matter of everybody in the culture understanding that everyone has a role to play in the game, and that everyone’s an individual person on the ice and that we shouldn’t really get too caught up on trivialities of the sport and that we’re all there for the same goal.”
-With files from Dean Recksiedler