Exploring the Unknown

Exploring the Unknown
Representing the 99%!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

When Parents Go Bad: Respect in Sports Initiative (RiS)

Piss Off Ye Langer!
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On January 26, 2002, Thomas Junta was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to 6 to 10 years in prison. What started out as a regular hockey practice game on July 5th, 2000, for the respective children of Thomas Junta and Michael Costin soon made international headlines when both men became embroiled in a heated argument. Ironically, Junta and Costin argued over Junta’s son being violently jabbed during practice. Differing views about the incident turned to blows resulting in Costin’s death.


Parental Violence in Sports


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Violence and sports tend to go hand in hand as spectators find themselves enthralled with players beating up one another. But how much is too much? According to Mary Ormsby of The Star’“History shows that, despite five gruesome deaths from in-game attacks that stretch back a century, Canadians still meekly accept that in hockey, assaults ... are fair play, not criminal behaviour.” This view has extended to minor league sports where parents themselves are getting in on the action. Alarmingly, parents are becoming abusive not only towards each other but unbelievably towards children themselves. ‘Cat-calls’, name calling and verbal threats are becoming part of the norm in most competitive youth sports. As a result, arguments, fist fights and not surprisingly, cases like Junta and Costin are becoming part of youth sport culture.

Respect in Sports Initiative (RiS)


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Recognizing this growing problem many organizations throughout Canada are beginning to take steps towards rectifying this behaviour amongst parents in youth sports. Programs such as Respect in Sports Initiative (RiS) has been developed specifically to target inappropriate parental behaviour, thus creating a safe and healthy environment for both parents and children involved.

One province in particular has taken things one step further. Hockey Calgary has recently made anger management courses compulsorily for all parents of youth participating in hockey. Failure to do so will result in the child or children not being allowed to participate in their beloved sport. According to Allan Maki of The Globe and Mail“Hockey Calgary was approached by former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy, who set out years ago to make the game safer for kids after he was sexually abused by his coach, Graham James.”

Protecting Our Children


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Once accepted as part of the game, cases like Junta and Costin highlight the worst case scenario. However, any type of verbal abuse between parents or indeed towards youth playing competitive sports is nothing less than psychologically and emotionally damaging to the youth in question. According to the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, Inc parental violence in sports can lead to
“children ... developing post traumatic stress disorder; the trauma associated with witnessing violence can adversely affect a child's ability to learn; the youth will engage in health risk behaviours including suicidal behaviour, and delinquent and aggressive behaviours in adolescence; violence is a learned behaviour; our children are often learning violence from places where they should be learning positive life skills; and abuse will "turn the child off" to exercise and sports participation and prevent the development of healthy lifestyles that will promote wellness through the lifespan.”
Inevitably, the onus of responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of those parents who behave inappropriately to change their ways and become appropriate role models for their children. RiS enforces not only appropriate behaviour amongst the one percent of parents who lack any self-control but as well binds the remaining ninety-nine percent of parents together in maintaining and providing a safe and therapeutic environment for children.



References 


Butterfield, Mark. Father in Killing at Hockey Rink Is Given Sentence of 6 to 10 Years. The New York Times, 2002

Maki, Alan. Hockey dads (and moms) take mandatory anger management. The Globe and Mail, 2010

National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, Inc: Fact Sheet – What Are The Effects Of Abuse Or Witnessing Parental Misconduct?

Ormsby, Mary. Culture of violence in hockey has a long and tarnished record. The Star, 2009

Nota Bene: The above article was originally published in 2010 through Suite 101.com now known as Suite.io.  


Corbin, M.R.J.  (October 30, 2010), When Parents Go Bad: Respect in Sports Initiative (RiS). In Sport.  Creative Marketeam Canada Ltd. Suite101.com.  Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. 

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