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Codes Of Conduct

It's All About The Kids





The words of a maniac?  Depends on how you look at it.  All these phrases and more have been screamed out at one time or another during a youth hockey game by parents of the young players.  On the surface, this type of behavior could be looked at as relatively harmless over-enthusiasm.  But the truth is much darker.

Fan aggression at youth hockey, soccer, baseball, and other youth sporting events is becoming a national epidemic.  What kind of messages are we sending our kids?  A 42 year-old man was beaten to death by another parent during a game.  Again and again, coaches, officials, and even kids are the subject of verbal and sometimes physical abuse by parents.



Of course, not all hockey parents fit this description.  Most have the right idea . . . that playing hockey should, first and foremost, be fun for the kids.  That playing the game will teach young athletes about sportsmanship, teamwork, and leadership . . . important skills they can use throughout their lives.  The fact is, all parents probably tell their kids these things, but too many parents seem to forget the lessons as soon as they get into the stands.  It's time for a new attitude.  We need to come together and embrace a new code of conduct that will help solve these problems and give the game and all it has to offer back to the kids.  And you'd better believe abusive parents are taking a toll on the kids.



Over 30 million kids age four to 14 are involved in organized sports in the United States.  Many of these kids are involved in low-pressure programs that don't discriminate by skill level, with the sole emphasis on fun.  However, according to research by the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports of Michigan State University, and others, more and more kids are actually dropping out of organized sports.  The figure is staggering - 70% by the time they are 13 years old.  Some of the reasons given:





It's obviously not "just a game" anymore to all these kids who are giving up on what should be one of the greatest parts of their young lives.

Kids are kids . . . they will make mistakes.  Even more importantly, the fun for them should be in playing, not winning.  We may have forgotten that most kids just want to have a good time, improve their game, and make new friends.  It's time for change.



The mission of the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association's S.T.A.R. HOCKEY program is to provide a youth hockey environment in which all the individuals are treated with respect and dignity for the enjoyment and personal development of everyone.

The S.T.A.R. HOCKEY program is based on the principal that we can all be stars . . . S.T.A.R. Players, S.T.A.R. Parents, S.T.A.R. Coaches, and S.T.A.R. Officials if we simply adopt shared guidelines and values:

TOLERANCE:  Patience, leniency, and acceptance of amateurs, particularly coaches and referees, but also players and sometimes parents new to the sport.

APPRECIATION: Awareness, understanding, and gratitude for what all volunteer participants must go through to become involved.

RESPECT:  Value, consideration, and recognition for the individual contributions and sacrifices by coaches, officials, and parents to make youth hockey possible.

It is important to understand that youth hockey really is just a game.  Everyone who makes it possible, from parents to officials, volunteer their time, effort, and money so that kids can play.  The officials and coaches are not professionals . . . most are volunteers doing the best job they can.  By embracing the S.T.A.R. HOCKEY Code of Conduct, we will all be making an effort toward showing our genuine appreciation and respect for everyone associated with the game.



MAHA's S.T.A.R. HOCKEY program is about shared values.  There is nothing new about them.  They are the same kinds of values and behavioral conduct your parents taught you . . . the same values you now teach your own children to live by.  They should not be thrown out the door at a hockey game, soccer game, or any other youth sporting event.

Youth sports are not a stepping stone to the pros.  The vast majority of kids will never make it that far and putting undue pressure on your children to play for all the wrong reasons is unfair and damaging.   

Remember, 70% of all kids in youth sports quit by the age of 13.

The kids are telling us something:

"Lay-off, kick back, and let me play for ME.  Let me play because it's fun and because, for most of us kids, it really is just a game . . . a stepping-stone on the road of life with lessons and memories I can cherish and remember long after I stop playing.

For the future of all youth sports, and the millions of kids who play, it's about time we listened.