Youth sports parents have received significant quantities of bad press in the last few years. Much of it is deserved: parents attacking coaches or each other don’t set a good example for their kids. I have zero scientific evidence divining the root cause of this escalation in bad behavior, but I’m sure the growth in competitive travel programs along with increasing hopes that excellence in sports leads to a discounted college education, have something to do with it. Most of us just need to relax and have fun. Most of the kids have forgotten the win or loss before the scoresheet is mailed.
Whether it’s exhilarating or terrifying for you to watch your own child play, the hardest spectator seat in the house goes to the hockey goalie’s parent. The goalie is seen as the last line of defense. But it’s unfair for all eyes to turn to the goalie when the red light goes on, because the goal tells you that the other five skaters didn’t play defense or weren’t in position before the shot went off.
This weekend we had a game against one of our local rivals. Their starting goalie’s father sat directly behind the scorer’s table, at center ice. He gave his son the respect — and support — of not sitting at the far end of the bleachers, and then switching sides at the end of the period. The loudest thing in his immediate vicinity was his bright orange hat. His son played very well, and he made goaltending look easy with fluid motions and excellent line of sight to the puck. 17 minutes and 11 saves worth of shut-out hockey, it was time to switch goalies, with some nice crowd support. Orange Hat clapped for every player, and not once did I hear his slightly accented voice. In short, worthy models of how to play and watch the game.
What’s the big deal, you ask? In Orange Hat’s day job, he wears a helmet with the 4 initials of his children written across the back. His son wears his father’s number (30) on his back. Above the number, in 4-inch high blue and white letters, is the name that’s key to the story: Brodeur. When your grandfather was an Olympic ice hockey medalist, and your father brought home the Olympic gold medal in ice hockey along with three Stanley Cups and a Vezina Trophy, there are great expectations for you. Hats off — orange or otherwise — to Marty and Anthony for just having fun.