Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Parenting By Hockey

Everything that I believe to be a cornerstone of good parenting can be found in a well-officiated hockey game. If you have ever watched a game, you have surely borne witness to the tantrum thrown by many players on their way to the penalty box as they plead their case. You have also likely noticed that an official never says “well, you’re making me feel so bad, I’m gonna change my mind”. Nope. It is quite possible that the official will be more watchful of the play upon which the penalized player is blaming her folly, however officials never apologize for enforcing good conduct.

Officials stick together. When a linesman makes an offside call, players may attempt to argue the call with another official. They may earnestly plead their case that the call was wrong; perhaps they believe that the linesman doesn’t like them. I’ve never witnessed an official changing the call of another official, except on plays which are open to review (see below). No official has ever said “Yeah, I know, ole’ Joe really needs to get some glasses. You know what, let’s just go ahead and give you a penalty shot.”

The rules are allowed to change in hockey. Not over-night, not in the middle of games, but the rules do evolve. Different officials enforce the rules slightly differently. Amazingly enough, most players are able to adapt without too much trouble. Sure, there’s the occasional idiot that still doesn’t understand why he’s not supposed to elbow other players in the head. Most of today’s players have managed to get this change of acceptable behavior incorporated into their playing style. With reasonable notice, rules can change.

Reviewing the play. While most plays don’t get a review, some plays do. One of the great things about hockey is that an official can review the play and change his mind about the call. They actually say “Yeah, I thought there was a kicking motion too. As it turns out, there wasn’t and the goal is going to stand.” Officials can and do admit to being wrong. No hard feelings.

We use a penalty box, figuratively speaking. We don’t start the timer until our player has stopped futilely pleading her case. She sometimes argues that the linesman was wrong. Sometimes she is right. If it’s warranted, we’ll review the play and discuss the results after she has served her penalty. The officials never change each others’ calls. The call stands: even when there isn’t unanimity amongst the officials, there is a united front from the player’s perspective. If absolutely necessary, the officials confer between periods-but never within earshot of the player. Finally, the officials never forget that the player wants only to win the game. It is the job of the officials to make sure that the game was won in accordance with the rules.

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