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MORRISSEY: Hoffman Estates ice rink trying to deter bad parental behavior

A sign display Triphahn Center Ice ArenHoffman Estates. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

A sign on display at the Triphahn Center Ice Arena in Hoffman Estates. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

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Updated: February 28, 2013 6:47AM

If you’re looking for a sign there are still good people trying to save us from our worst selves, I’d suggest a trip to Hoffman Estates.

The northwest suburb might not come immediately to mind during a discussion about peace and joy through sports, though it once was the home of the Chicago Bliss of the Lingerie Football League. But head to the Triphahn Center Ice Arena, and there, in front of each of the two rinks, you will find words to live by. Two identical signs capture (with humor) what should be the focus of youth sports while exhibiting a
keen understanding of everything that tends to go wrong with them:

Please Remember

1) These are kids

2) This is a game

3) Parents should cheer for everyone

4) The Referees are human

5) You and your child do not play for the Blackhawks

If you don’t understand this, please contact the ice dept. at 847-781-3632. We would be happy to explain it to you!

Funny and absolutely spot-on, as the best social commentary usually is. Reminder No. 5 should be stamped on the forehead of every hockey parent who thinks that his or her kid is destined for the NHL and that the only thing to be worked out is the size of the signing bonus.

Jeff Doschadis, the general manager of ice operations for the Hoffman Estates Park District, put up the signs in early September. He can’t take full credit for the message — he saw some variation of it at a baseball field during an East Coast trip — but the insertion of the Blackhawks in No. 5 is his, and it’s brilliant.

You don’t create that sign without having witnessed some bad behavior.

‘‘I’ve seen parents go on the ice to berate refs,’’ Doschadis said. ‘‘I’ve seen coaches leave the box to go after parents. I’ve kicked guys out of here for fighting in the stands. I’ve had to call the police for altercations among parents of different teams. I’ve seen parents going after kids. There’s nothing that really shocks me anymore.’’

It’s not just hockey. It can be any sport, as the on-court fight after a recent Simeon-Morgan Park high school basketball game shows. A student was shot to death in a parking lot after that game.

‘‘People are so competitive and put the emphasis on winning so greatly that they can’t [see] what they really want their kids to accomplish, and that’s to hopefully have a lifelong experience, enjoy what they’re doing, maybe make some friends and learn some sportsmanship,’’ Doschadis said.

The sign is becoming popular. Doschadis saw parents and players taking photos of it during a national hockey tournament at the arena in November. People from Vancouver to Ottawa have passed it on via email and Twitter. There might be hope for us yet.

If you’ve been around youth sports, you know there is no specific profile of the parent who behaves poorly. It can be an otherwise well-adjusted father who lives vicariously through his daughter’s athletic career, or it can be a mother who believes her son is, at the age of 7, destined for a college scholarship.

‘‘I see more females that actually go off the deep end, so to speak, than even some dads,’’ Doschadis said. ‘‘Standing behind the glass and yelling at a goalie that’s on another team. That’s crazy to me, but we see it. You would never expect it to be the person who does it.’’

Finances play a role in how some parents behave. They’re investing money in equipment and fees, and they want to see something in return, whether it be more playing time for their kids or more victories. What should be a game for your son instead becomes an expenditure for you. It’s why there can be the equivalent of stockholder uprisings at youth games.

The worst Doschadis has seen in eight years of running the ice center, which has leagues for kids from
5 through 16?

‘‘A fight broke out in the stands,’’ he said. ‘‘Parents literally swinging for the fences and going after each other. And then getting hauled away by the cops in front of your own kids and the team. You would think that people would be embarrassed and never want to come back to the rink, but I don’t know if they are. The human psyche sometimes astonishes me.’’

But now there’s a sign standing vigil that might stop bad behavior before it starts.

Or not.

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