Sunday, February 27, 2011

I Got Your Lobotomy Right Here...

Thank goodness, we have made it to the end of this youth hockey season!

My 12 year old son loves sports, especially hockey. I'm still trying to adjust to being the mom of a jock (sorry, *young athlete*). It often seems that life is made up of only two things: neurosurgery and watching youth sports.

He plays football in addition to hockey; he's also now the goalie for his school's JV soccer team. I suppose spring will vacillate between operating and cheering for excellent saves.

Hopefully it won't involve any hooliganism...

Hockey parenting has worn me out recently. I get that hockey is a physical and sometimes violent sport. What I don't get is the vitriol spouted by players - and their parents. We're talking about 11 and 12 year olds here. For instance:

Last year, our team was in the semifinals of the league tournament. Admittedly, one of our kids was very big for his age. He therefore drew a lot of attention from everyone, including referees. You might imagine that a kid so big could execute a pretty effective check. Thankfully, he never seriously hurt anyone.

Well, the game is ticking along, and several kids (including him) go down in a pile in the corner of the ice while chasing the puck. As they disentangle themselves, an opposing player grabs our big kid's leg while he's trying to get up. Probably their kid was trying to clamber up himself. Regardless, it evidently appeared to the opposing team's parents that our kid was deliberately stepping on their kid with his skate.

At this point, a mom from the other team standing close by started hopping up and down, screaming abuse at our kid at the top of her lungs. "Did you see that?! He stepped on our kid! Throw him out! ##@*^^&! I can't believe this! $$@#**..." She went on and on in the same vein.

After about 5 minutes of this ranting, I had enough. I turned to her and politely said, "Do you think it's possible that our kid might just have been trying to stand up, and that he might not have been trying to step on anybody deliberately?"

Fuel to the fire! Instantly, her vehemence redirected itself at me. "OOOOhhhhh, no! Look here, I got it all on video! Do you want to see it?! He did.... etc. etc..." waving her video camera ecstatically around her head. I stared, fascinated, as her face turned redder and redder. Finally, she shrieked, "Stop looking at me! You're STILL looking at me!!" Of course I was, sort of like rubbernecking at a car accident... I'm sure my eyes were as big as saucers at that point. What, really, did she expect?

I must admit, I have no experience with this sort of thing. Being a classic nerd, I was never involved in any fisticuffs or hair-pulling in the halls of my high school (although I have witnessed such events). But, surgeon-like, I do have a temper, as I have admitted elsewhere. By now, I was angry at her hooliganesque attitude and the things she screamed at our 11 and 12 year olds. Hence, a few low-level comments did fly back and forth as the game progressed. (I know, I shouldn't have needled her.)

Unfortunately, the offending mom became further inflamed by our team's obvious impending victory. Finally, she appeared beside me, literally dancing with rage. "I'm a dentist, and I can fix your teeth; how about THAT?!" she seethed.

As I mentioned, I am a novice to this sort of thing. Now I was thinking, "OK, if she wants to wage the war of the degrees, she's not going to win..." So I replied, quite seriously, "Well, I can fix your brain..."

This was not received in the spirit in which it was intended!

After I declined her subsequent invitation to come outside to the parking lot, rolled my eyes, and redirected my attention, my less naive husband started snickering. He had been standing behind me, knowing what I was thinking. He told me later that he was muttering under his breath, "Don't say it... don't say it.."

Well, so my knuckles (and my teeth) remain intact to this day. But I continue to be horrified by some of things hockey parents yell at kids on a regular basis. Some rinks, unfortunately, actually sell beer for adults to drink at youth hockey events. You might imagine this doesn't make things any more civil. It's not limited to just hockey, either, from the stories I hear about other youth sports. My son tells me about the profane trash talking he's heard from kids (and their coaches!) on the ice; wonder where they get that? I just can't wait to see what things are like when he's in high school.


  1. God I kind of hope my son doesn't turn into a jock. Not that I can control this, but ack. One of my friend's sons plays basketball, and she has told me stories like this - surprisingly - to me - (and supporting your experience) - the parent who is the most out of line is a mom.

    Deserving of a lobotomy? For attacking and projecting onto your son? I have to agree.

  2. That is the most hysterical thing I have read all day. Seriously.

    (I don't think I'd have been able to resist needling her either.)

  3. Hahahahaha... Awesome. Simply awesome.

  4. OMG. Hysterical. This is really terrible. I'm sure it just gets worse. The one and only live hockey game I ever went to was a college game and I was so disgusted by the crowd cheering the players on when they started fighting that I gave up my half season tickets and have never watched another game since.

  5. Kellie (General Surgeon)February 28, 2011 at 6:11 PM

    Oh my, hysterical! I think I would not have been as restrained as you were.

    It is sad what goes on at children's sporting events. Parents need to grow up and realize that little "scotty" will not be the next NHL all star (or NFL or NBA or whatever). very unlikely, so let the kid enjoy himself and let the other kids enjoy themselves!

  6. I love kids' sports, so I hope this doesn't discourage you from participating.
    Coaches have a responsibility to remind the parents to behave. Our daughter has been on the same soccer team for many years and the coaches outlaw anything from the sidelines beyond "Yay! Go Janie! Nice pass!" No negative cheering, and absolutely no coaching.
    I coached my daughter's basketball team, and one of the moms ran out on the court at the end of a game and started screaming at the ref that he sucked (admittedly, she had her facts correct). First I pulled her off him, then I apologized to him, and then I reminded her that her son was watching and one of the goals of the league is to teach good sportsmanship. She was actually pretty embarrassed and behaved herself after that.

  7. Gah! That is unbelievable! I t think I have the chops to be a sports parent. LOL.

    Your comeback made me chuckle...and hyey, SHE started it, so she had it coming. ;)

  8. neurosurgeon>>dentist. That's hysterical... I would've reacted the same way.

  9. Gee, I think a lobotomy would have been an improvement.

  10. Giz, I think it's actually really good for my son to love sports. As annoying as these parents can be, it's still been worth it!

    I find this experience to be really funny in hindsight. In fact, it was pretty funny even right afterwards! Just absurd!

    Kelly, it's a shame about the crowd, because the game of hockey is so fast paced and so fun to watch.

    Kellie, you hit it on the head. So many of these parents are completely delusional about their kids' skills. They really do think Junior is going to the NHL. I've known families to quit their jobs and move halfway across the country so their 10 year old hockey player can have better "opportunities." I just don't get it.

    hh: Wow. Good thing parents can't run out on the ice! :-)

  11. I just found this blog and I have to say I am soooo excited to find other physician moms with strong voices.

    Thanks for the great writing and comaraderie. I will be following along.....

  12. Wow, I really, really admire your patience Doc. Lucky for that parent you have breeding and acted professionally despite your temper.
    Yea, I agree with hh. I hope your hockey refs will shoo away disgusting parents.


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