Thursday, December 20, 2018

How to Remove Anger in Sports

Want to develop players, make your organization more competitive, and increase enrollment?

You’ve already experienced it... controlling anger in hockey and in many other sports is becoming harder and harder.

As anger rises, there is a cascading effect...

Quality referees find other ways to supplement their income;  leading to less officiating quality; leading to more anger,

House/Local league parents witnessing "crazy behavior", begin looking for other, family friendly, options for their youngsters,

Slowly the foundation of the association erodes, 

Competitive teams and roster sizes are reduced,

Ice time becomes more expensive per player,

Fees rise to compensate, and

Less and less people are exposed to the coolest game on earth.

One of the biggest reasons people leave the game of hockey is due to an increasing lack of accountability and respect for one-another.

As self-centeredness increases, so to do the outbursts, tantrums and defiance (and were not talking about the kids here).

I've spoken with many VP's of Rep hockey in Southern Ontario Canada, and the results are the same:
  1. decreasing enrollment, 
  2. more oversight and intervention necessary, and 
  3. less time available to focus on improving the experience of playing the game.


So how do we get behavior back on-side?

Strategy 1 - Communication
It may sound simple, but it's not done regularly or consistently enough.

Each association needs to empower their coaches to espouse the principles of respect.  The coach is in the trenches everyday - they are your best connection to your people.  Choose 'em and Use 'em!

Before the season, before playoffs, before each tournament, before each big game -- communicate, communicate, communicate.  You want to be a coach - great... here a few things we expect from your parent group.

Forewarned is forearmed. Without continual reminders, everyone forgets.  Don't provide this as an excuse.

Strategy 2 - Educate
Hockey Canada has already taken steps in this regard with the adoption of the 'Respect in Sport' program.

Thought by many to be just another money grab, Hockey Canada has seen this problem on the rise for some time and currently requires 1 person from every family to complete Respect in Sport training.

While this is an important and necessary component of the overall solution it still needs some teeth.  ...Keep Reading

Strategy 3 - Accountability
People today are selfish.  A "me-first" mentality of entitlement has taken hold.  Nobody ever makes mistakes anymore.  Everyone acts as though they are perfect.  After all - its weak to admit mistakes, right?  They point fingers, lay blame, they accuse, they stomp, they yell, they punch and kick but it's all justified.  

Its not me - its them.

When they are eventually held accountable for their actions, the penalties are small, usually quick, with limited follow-through, pain, or additional education.    The offender is back on the streets, with a smile on their face and in no time, right back at it.

A slap on the wrist without any remorse.  They've learned nothing!  After all - whose to say I'm right and your wrong.  How dare they. How dare I.  If no one was hurt, then it must be fine.

This is nonsense.  Inappropriate behavior is simply, inappropriate and should not be tolerated. When a referee on the ice, looks up into the stands and singles you out of the crowd, points and asks you to leave before the game continues, guess what...YOU have crossed the line of acceptable behavior.

There is no need to investigate, or hear your side, or hear about what bad people they are on the other team, or that the other team was in the parking lot drinking before the game.  No, the problem is You and it's got to stop.

Fortunately, there are two things that can easily change behavior.  The 1st is time, and the 2nd is money.  Both are valued commodities for most people in our society and are regularly used to hold people accountable for their actions.

Many US courts order people with anger issues to courses that last 24 weeks.  There are no fast-track ways to reduce the 24 weeks, or to do, say 2 sessions in a single week so you can finish in 12 weeks.  It lasts 24 weeks because the pain felt over that time period sucks.  It's long and it hurts, just the way other people were hurt when they had to listen to your filthy language and insults in the stands.

Not to mention that over 24 weeks, even the most daft of us will struggle not to learn something about our behavior and how to rectify it.

In places where lower sentences or number of anger sessions is granted, the offense is typically minor, however the overall monetary cost to the individual is generally higher.

One way or another, negative pressure needs to be applied, in conjunction with education, to ensure that behavior is changed.

When the punishment fits the crime, the next time that trigger event occurs, the anger will be controlled.

Strategy 4 - Measure
You get what you measure.

How many people were removed from the stands this regular season compared to last?

How many fist fights occurred?

How many times were the police called?

How many people were charged?

How many cups of coffee were thrown?

How many complaints did you receive from parents in the stands?

When you've accumulated the data, return to Step 1 and Communicate it to the world.  It's embarrassing to be known as a statistic.  Publishing the data alone should reduce anger instances by 25%.

It's unfair to everyone to turn a blind eye to the anger and violence that surrounds us in sport today.  To say, "it didn't impact me, so no big deal" is cowardly and I hope you never coach my kid.

Stand up for what's right. Ensure policies are in place to handle and effectively deal with anger issues.  Send these people to courses where they have to invest some time and money.

And when they're ready, let them back in the game - because we all make mistakes, and its that passion to be better people that unites us all.

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