From the Desk of Allyson Tufts: Fighting in the Stands

From the Desk of Allyson Tufts: Fighting in the Stands

Don’t make a mockery of the game

The whole reason I wrote my book is because I wanted other hockey parents to learn from my mistakes. I was not good at dealing with the stress of hockey. No matter how positive I thought I was keeping things, there were many times I was making it so much worse for my son simply because it was all I talked about. It’s true I have a lot to learn, but I have to say the one thing I could never understand is parents physically fighting in the stands, in the lobby, the parking lot, or threatening referees.

The most recent story I heard was of a fight that broke out in an arena during a hockey game. The hockey players were escorted to the dressing rooms with a vision of their parents throwing punches in the background. In one of the instances someone took a mini stick to another parent’s head. Can you imagine as a young person witnessing someone hitting your mother or father violently over the head with anything? You can’t chalk that up to a passionate hockey moment, you just can’t. That is scary for a young person and it makes them feel like it’s their fault, like they’ve created this situation because it’s at their hockey game. I firmly believe that no parent sets out to get in a fist fight but we have to pull ourselves back in these situations. Be the parent that walks away, be the parent that breaks up the fight, and most importantly be the parent that points out that children are watching you. This can’t be something we become desensitised to. We will make a mockery of the game and worse, we’ll do damage to our young players well-being.


I often talk about why the game has this effect on us as parents. I think it happens every time we get so caught up in how we are feeling in the moment, that we forget that this is not our experience, it’s our players. Think about it, how much sense does it make that players had to be escorted off of the ice so security could get control of their parents in the stands. The fight in the stands had nothing to do with the players on the ice, it had everything to do with the parents losing control because of their own issues. Didn’t they come to the game to watch their kids?

In “Lessons from Behind the Glass”, I wrote:

“Sometimes we need to ask ourselves when we’ve yelled at our kids in the rink, who are we really yelling for? If they don’t have a good game, who are we embarrassed for? I bet if you think long and hard the answer is you’re yelling because you don’t want people to look at you like you aren’t aware that your son or daughter just messed up. I hate to say it, but like everything else, our ego’s get in the way. This is our child’s experience, not our own. It’s amazing the freedom that comes from stepping back. I say this having yelled, paced, made excuses, and left many games feeling worse than my son did.”

Some parents get so worked up that they resort to violence in the stands. They may believe that they will win an argument if they yell the loudest so they don’t appear weak. In some sick way they think they are defending their kids honour; however, in truth, they are ridding their kids of any pride they felt about that game at all.

We need to be better, we need to walk away from those moments. Let someone else be the crazy parent. Let your child get in the car with you and know that their Mom or Dad isn’t being laughed at. Our example is their greatest teacher and that game is their greatest joy, don’t take all of that away to win an argument in the stands. I’d rather win my child’s respect on the way home and not make a mockery of the game they love so much!

- Written by Allyson Tufts



Images source: Toronto Life and The National Post