OT: An open letter to an asshat

You don’t know who I am but I am among the hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) who know who you are.

I can’t even hazard a guess as to what you were thinking when you decided to attack a linesman at a minor hockey game on Saturday. You were probably blinded by rage. Maybe you thought you were sticking up for your son. And maybe you’re embarrassed now. Or maybe you feel vindicated; like some sort of perverse notion of justice has been meted out for some indiscretion.

Want to know what I’m thinking?

I’m thinking you don’t deserve to be part of my game.

Hockey has taken its lumps over the years. And the lumps are, in part, beyond anyone’s control. Our country has become more diverse; people from different cultures are now part of ours, bringing with them passions for games that scarcely had a toe-hold here even twenty years ago when I was a kid just starting to play sports. Hockey has become prohibitively expensive too; it’s far cheaper to buy a soccer ball and cleats than to outfit a growing child in the layers of padding they need to play on the ice.

Yes,  many of the lumps are out of our control. But I will not stand by quietly while you disgrace my game.

My game has no room for you. Nor does my game have room for those who decide to stack their house league teams so they can finish 1-2-3 in the standings. My game doesn’t have room for the sick individuals who use their positions of authority to prey on the innocent for their own perverse pleasure. My game doesn’t have room for coaches who tell their kids to play dirty, or for parents who encourage their kids to shoot before passing to a teammate.

None of you have the right to further sully my game’s image because none of you deserve to be part of it.

  • My game belongs to the kids who play for fun; the kids who are convinced they scored 50 goals last year even though the team only scored 47.
  • My game belongs to the parents who understand that the hundreds of dollars in rink fees, thousands of dollars in equipment and countless dollars in canteen chips and pop will not come back to them in the form of million-dollar NHL contracts.
  • My game belongs to coaches who understand that sometimes it’s better to put aside the carefully-constructed practice plan in favour of British Bulldog and thee-on-three scrimmages.
  • My game belongs to the referees who smile while they remind a winger where to line up for a faceoff.

In short, my game belongs to the people who realize it’s a game. The people who realize that when it’s all said and done, when the gear has been sold off and the stale arena coffee is long behind us, all we’ll have left is a puck bag full of memories.

Your son will have that too. And thanks to you, his most prominent memory will be of you, fists flying in rage as you try to punch out a linesman.

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