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The animated video highlights obvious no-nos of sport parenting, from harassing officials to using guilt as a motivator (“Do you know how much mommy and daddy paid for this? Starting next season, parents, coaches and officials in all 31 of the OMHA’s leagues will be required to complete the , one-hour course, while other Ontario jurisdictions—including the GTHL—have left it to the discretion of individuals.

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But now, amid the spare sweaters and sticks in his club’s equipment room, he’s looking back on a decade behind the bench, and recalling his least fine hour.

It was two years back, in the middle of the playoffs, and the game had gone pear-shaped.

But the yelling and finger-jabbing goes on and, after a few moments, the official loses his own temper. Each hearing involves three directors, and the adjudicators have all been schooled by Penman in the ways of natural justice: All parties must get ample notice, cross-examinations are permitted and optics are everything—which is to say, no cozy chats in the corridors with parties who happen to be friends. “I spend a lot of my time in telephone hearings with people who say they’ve moved to Toronto so their kids can play in the GTHL,” he says with a sigh. It’s just a game and we’re supposed to be having fun. I think they need to calm down, because they’re not even the ones playing.” The speaker is 11-year-old Matthew D’Alessandro, a peewee select player from Etobicoke, Ont., and while he has no complaint about how his own parents behave, his outlook reflects the weight overwrought adults exert on youngsters—even if they’re not the sort of grown-ups who get into scraps, or hire human rights lawyers.

“We have to determine whether it’s a legitimate move, or somebody’s just opened up a post office box.” “Stressing. His views encapsulate the sentiments of numerous kids interviewed for this story by .

“We need to reach that parent just putting her kid into hockey, or the one already involved in the game, and make them aware how important their attitude is,” says Todd Jackson, senior manager of safety and insurance.

“We need to shift away from misplaced enthusiasm to giving kids truly what they need: Fun. The chance to be a team player.” To get its message out, Hockey Canada is encouraging teams, local associations and regional branches to use an online primer called , which is produced by the foundation started by former NHLer Sheldon Kennedy and is being made mandatory in a growing number of jurisdictions across the country.

But when the governing body teamed with hockey-gear-maker Bauer last summer to survey 875 families who’d kept their kids out of the game, the reason they heard most was, “Hockey just doesn’t seem fun.” For the stewards of our national sport, that response is a red flag.

In the past, they could count on about one in 10 Canadian children registering in hockey, thanks in most cases to parents who took great joy in the game when they were young.

For years now, he says, a reluctance to rock the boat has stopped the hockey community from confronting a problem that is now clearly hurting it.

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