“Number 10 you have to pass!”
“Cram it down their throats!”
“Ref, you’re an idiot!”
What do all these “cheers” have in common? They’re clueless.
My best friend yells “foul!” because she knows no hockey lingo, which is fairly harmless. But another parent gives super-specific advice that is kind of insulting. A player’s uncle doesn’t understand the sportsmanship we try to teach when he advises the team to rack up the score. Many spectators, parents included, forget to respect the officials.
Fortunately for hockey players, they’re wearing helmets and often behind glass. No matter what you yell, they probably can’t hear you. And it’s probably good that they can’t hear you because you might not being saying the same thing as the coaches.
The crowd around you, however, can hear you — and they may be offended by what you and your friends and family have to say. (I’m still holding a grudge against a guy who yelled, “You have to pass in that situation,” to my son, who plays the puck like a hot potato, when he actually worked up the nerve to skate the puck up the ice once. And that was four years ago.) You’re around these people a lot, during the season and over the years, so you’ll want to keep the peace.
Safe to Say
It’s safe to yell anything positive, without swearing or sarcasm.
- Go! (Your go-to cheer if you know nothing about hockey.)
- Stop him!
- Great try!
- Great pass!
- Good save, goalie!
- Nice shot!
The fastest way to make enemies is to criticize or laugh at other kids. You can bemoan your own kid’s play to your heart’s content, but you’ll be sorry if you start harping on others. Parents I’ve talked to admit to being embarrassed about saying — or irritated by hearing — the following:
- Pass it to [insert number of your kid]!
- You have to pass!
- Terrible pass!
- Not in front of the net!
- Number [X] you need to…
- Why didn’t you…?
- What was that?
- Hit him!
- Terrible shot!
- Puck hog!
- You suck! (To a player or the other team.)
- Coach, put in [insert name of you kid]!
- Ref, you [anything]
- &$?@ or *+!# or any other four letter word
Go negative enough and you may earn more than a dirty look or snide comment. Officials can toss offensive spectators and hockey associations can take action. If it takes some practice to bite your tongue, hang out by the glass rather than in the stands. In a later article, we’ll talk about ways to encourage positive behavior in your relatives, your friends and other fans.
Editor’s Note: Special thanks to Kelly Anton for this article.