This weekend, parents were shocked when a video surfaced of a B.C. hockey coach pushing a 13-year-old child to the ice during the traditional handshake at the end of the game.
This seemed like a black and white issue to me: adult intentionally trips child. Child gets injured. Adult gets charged by the RCMP.
But commenters on national news sites didn't take too kindly to the fact that an adult involved in the hockey world would be charged for something that happened "on the ice," suggesting that the same boy who was later revealed to have broken a wrist probably got thrown to the ice or slashed with a hockey stick a million times during the game.
Here's a sample of comments on CBC.ca:
"Assault charges? This society has gone off the deep end. Get a grip, it's on the ice."
"Keep the police out of this matter. This same kid probably fell 10 times during the games, was sticked, hooked, slashed and checked. Let the league determine his future as a coach. Do we need police to solve every little scuffle that occurs?"
That may be true - but those slashes or checks were done by his peers; his peers being fellow hockey players in a closely watched and reffed hockey game between 10- to 13-year-old boys. Tripping will cost you a penalty in hockey, too. But this coach isn't a player. He is a grown man trusted to be a good example of sportsmanship and fair play by the parents who place their children in his care during practice. Are the kids on his team learning those values from him? Or are they learning that pushing around someone smaller than them is okay?
The deliberate trip was done by what can only be described as a pathetic, grown-up bully, who caught a poor kid off guard and sent him crashing to the ground, unprepared. To try to protect himself, the boy threw both his wrists out in front of himself as he and a player behind him smashed into the ice. Because it was during the handshake, he probably wasn't wearing the protective gloves all hockey players are regulated to wear.
So, to all those people saying the RCMP should be left out of this, I wonder how you'd feel about this happening to your child. What if it happened on a playground? What if a teacher walked up to your kid and shoved him to the ground, smashing his wrist in the school field? The sense of outrage would be palpable.
Should this man be forgiven because it happened "on the ice"?
This was a grown man physically assaulting a small boy. This was not a coach lovingly ribbing the opposing team for their loss.
Allowing Hockey Canada to temporarily ban this coach isn't enough - although I think it should be the obvious response from them. RCMP intervention is exactly what is needed here to give parents peace of mind that their children will not be assaulted by the adult men and women they place their trust in at hockey practice.
Police intervention will also give those fabulous coaches out there (and I know there are many right here in our communities) that when they bring their kids to a game, the opposing adults will not wade into it on or off the ice.
There are penalties and rules in hockey - and, believe it or not, the same goes in real life. Being a hockey coach does not set you above the law. Let's call a spade a spade here and give our heads a shake.