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Bob Lobel: Hockey Parents Belong in the Penalty Box

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I saw something for the first time and it made a lasting impression. You would think with the recurring news stories about the overzealous behavior of parents at youth events, especially hockey at the high school level and below, that behavior of the worst sort would be under control. Apparently not.

I had the opportunity to attend a game where my 13-year-old grandson was playing in Burlington, Vermont this past Saturday. There was some chippy play on the ice, and a parent took exception to the way the official handled it. With two seconds left in the second period, the official stopped the game and pointed to the loud parent and ordered him out of the rink.

Never saw that before, but the official would not let the game continue until the coach of the team the parent was following walked over and asked him to leave. Mission accomplished. Fan gone, game on and a lesson for one and all: Shut up and let them play. No word on the level of embarrassment by the offending father on his son or daughter. Maybe there wasn't any because maybe it wasn't the first time this behavior was on display.

But I'll say this: it was effective on many levels and it was a study in how to deal with these overzealous parents. Pay attention to this and please incorporate it into all programs. A lot of stupid adult actions can be avoided if the officials become officials of both on- and off-the-ice behavior.

So, let's move to events of this weekend and events coming up. Lance on Oprah. Let's see what the international king of all cheaters has to say and how he says it. Why is he doing it? Who does he apologize to and for what? Does Tyler Hamilton get a break after he became one of the original whistle blowers on the Tour king?

And there were the NFL games that were the antithesis of the prior week: not boring, not ho-hum, but exciting down to the last. Takeaways for me this weekend were the canonization of Ray Lewis. I just don’t get it. I can't get past the incident where two men were left for dead by his posse when he was at the scene years ago. He was an accomplice of some sort at those murders. His final stats should read: “X number of games played. X number of tackles, X number of interceptions, X number of touchdowns, X number of championships, and 2 dead.” Sorry, just can't get past that.

The Gronkowski issue is another matter. On a team with plenty of matinee idols, Gronk has become an A-team celebrity. The reason the Patriots were able to draft him was because he had back surgery in college at Arizona and missed a year. He had spinal stenosis where his spinal column was narrowing and needed repair. So he missed a year in college and fell in the draft. Then there was the broken foot or ankle last year causing him to miss the playoffs and the Superbowl. Then there was this last broken forearm issue. Coincidence? Accidental?

Whatever it is, it makes me crazy as a fan. How is it possible that one of the world's greatest human indestructible forces, and our guy, can be so brittle? How many more injuries can he have before we say, “Great, but he can't stay on the field”? This guy is a legend already and is just getting started. Another injury is not a positive development, and because we all come from around here, we tend to expect the worst.

Like Wes Welker, for example. How many hits of the violent nature can this guy take? Isn't it so obvious, in the wake of the Junior Seau information, that Welker, the player, will morph into Welker, the damaged NFL alum? God, we all hope not, but the evidence seems to be pointing overwhelmingly in that direction. The price of success can brutal. The unanswered question is, “Is it worth it?” 


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