Letters to the editor - Dear Editor,
Benched Bantam players deserve an apology from minor hockey for how they were mistreated in the Bantam Easter Tournament that took place at Port Aux Basques this past Easter week.
HNL is the governing body for minor hockey so why do coaches blatantly refuse to follow these rules and not be held accountable for their actions. I know hockey coaches are volunteers and are very much appreciated for all the time they give to the sport, but they should not be allowed to cause players emotional anguish and humiliation without being held accountable. Minor hockey is all about learning the game, respecting your coaches and fellow players, developing skills and most of all having fun. There should be no place there for humiliation or disrespect.
According to HNL if you have 17 skaters and two goalies you are to take them to your Easter Tournament, you are not allowed to pick just 12 players and leave the rest at home. The policy of fair play was developed and put in place for a reason. That does not mean that all players get equal hockey time but it does mean that you are not supposed to shorten your bench so that from the first five minutes of the first period to the third period only 10 players are allowed to play while the other players watch like spectators from the bench. Why dress these players in hockey equipment if they are mere spectators? I know there are power play lines when you are down a goal or fighting off penalties but to resort to shortening your bench after five minutes of play is against all fair play rules. This kind of hockey was allowed to take place in the 1970's when we were growing up in the minor hockey scene but please tell me that over the past 30 years with more policies in place why this activity is being seen today.
This tournament was going great, played five games in the round robin and won all five games with a shut-out in three games. The whole team was playing well together and it had the potential for being such a positive experience for not only the players and coaching staff but also the parents. There was such a ripple effect because of the decision to shorten the bench that tempers ran high. Some parents approached the coach after the second period wondering why the benched players were not being allowed to play the game; having your child humiliated like that in such a public way is very hurtful to players and their parents.
There was shouting and arguments, not only between the parents and coach but also between the hockey parents. Why do some parents think it is okay to bench a full line? We have spoke out against this before even when our son was actually allowed to play and others did not, we think about the whole team and how it must feel, not just putting our son first. We have received a letter before from the executive about speaking out against coaches that do not follow fair play, and we have also written a letter in the past to the executive about this matter but it seems nothing changes. It's obviously about the win and not about protecting players against discrimination. This kind of activity does not help build players self-esteem, it destroys it.
After the start of the third period and the confrontations with the coach the Lewisporte hockey fans started to separate in the stands. How sad after you went there as a group of supportive parents and left as two separate groups, parents that saw their son play against parents whose son sat on the bench. All of this because of the ripple effects of a coaches approach to win at all costs. We personally want to thank the player that offered his shifts to some of the benched players, that proves that not everyone agreed with the policy win at all cost, how sportsmanlike of this player. We thank and appreciated your gesture! If a 15-year-old could tell it was wrong, why did the coach and some adult spectators not see this?
The parents that argued with the coach about his coaching technique received a letter from the Lewisporte Minor Hockey executive voicing their disapproval of their confrontational approach in the situation. The coach received a letter from the executive praising him for volunteering his time but was told that he was supposed to follow Fair Play Policy - no reprimand given. Two hockey moms that got into verbal interactions in the stands supporting the coach's approach to playing a shortened bench never received any letters from the executive for their verbal confrontations. Does this mean that the executive sup ports the parents that support a coach that goes against HNL rules? I guess playing to win at all cost is what is being portrayed here. Everyone, not only a select few involved in verbal interaction should have gotten letters from the executives, what the coach did was wrong. Maybe all parents at some time should feel the discrimination some parents and players at that tournament felt, maybe then and only then would all parents support fair play.
What's the point for a player to wear a gold medal if you sat on the bench and watched the game? If you won five games by playing the whole team why change your game plan during the championship game? Then to add salt to the wounds the benched players had to go back to school and listen to one player rant and accuse the parents that supported fair play was the reason the team lost that game. A spectator watching the game that was not connected to any team made the comment halfway through the second period, "Lewisporte is going to lose this game, they are beat out," while fresh players sat and watched. How could anyone think that a game plan like this could have produced a win, did anyone think about the humiliation felt by the benched players? Obviously the coach, most of the players that were allowed to play, and the parents in support of this game plan never thought about how this would affect the benched players, if they did why did they not speak up against this coaching fiasco. Doesn't supporting your team mean supporting and encouraging all players on the team?
The ironic thing about this situation is that two years ago we played at the same stadium against the same team and won silver, but that silver was won playing the whole team and we all felt great. But this time we won silver by playing two-thirds of our team and felt like it was a devastating loss. We left divided as a group with a full line of players humiliated. Who knows, maybe if the whole team got to play together at the championship game like they played the first five games of the tournament then maybe we may have gotten gold, but that chance was denied.
If you want to join a more competitive level of hockey join Triple A hockey. Minor hockey is there for learning the game, developing skills, making lifelong friends, learning respect and having fun. It does not mean not to be competitive, but being competitive at what costs? If Lewisporte Minor Hockey wants to adopt the policy to win at all cost without following set rules laid out by HNL then maybe instead of having an open registration in the fall they should have try-outs and the top 12 in each group would be selected for each level. The players that don't make the team should be told to register at another sport where their talents will be appreciated and they will be shown respect.
A full line of Bantam players did not leave this Easter tournament with a positive experience. Where's the apology for these boys? The humiliation they felt should have never happened because it was against the rules. The coach was allowed to pick what goalie he wanted to play in the championship game only, not what two lines he wanted to play. I know that not all teams we played at that tournament practiced fair play, but maybe Lewisporte should have set an example. After all, we had won five games playing the entire team, why change the game plan? Maybe an apology from the executive would somehow ease the embarrassment felt by these benched Bantams, after all they did nothing wrong.
Once again parents
for Fair Play,
Greg and Carolyn
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Dear Editor, Benched Bantam players deserve an apology from minor hockey for how they were mistreated in the Bantam Easter Tournament that took place at Port Aux Basques this past Easter week. HNL is the governing body for minor hockey so why do coaches blatantly refuse to follow these rules and not be held accountable for their actions. I know hockey coaches are volunteers and are very much appreciated for all the time they give to the sport, but they should not be allowed to cause players emotional anguish and humiliation without being held accountable. Minor hockey is all about learning the game, respecting your coaches and fellow players, developing skills and most of all having fun. There should be no place there for humiliation or disrespect.
Letters to the editor - Dear Editor,