The Magic Hockey Helmet and More

Feb. 02, 2009, 1:02 p.m. (ET)

I spent over half an hour this morning on the phone with a parent, who had been ejected from his daughter’s 12-and-under volleyball tournament yesterday. He has a daughter who plays another sport, where referee heckling is part of the culture and he is struggling with learning the culture of volleyball. It was a very enjoyable conversation all-in-all, evolving from a “who do I write my letter of complaint to?" to a philosophical discussion on who the game is for, and leadership/role modeling lessons which can be learned, along with the randomness of sport and the great effort shown in certain plays in last ****ht’s great Super Bowl.

I often speak in my clinics about changing the role of the referee and the impact this would have on the game. Specifically, what I posit would be to simply allow the referees to heckle, jeer and even spin their head like seen in the Exorcist, at any “bad” line up/"missed" time out opportunity/playset error and more, by the coaching staffs. Of course, the referees would also get to do the same to any parent after their child erred – so that we wonderfully get to hear things like “Whose child is THAT? She/he is TERRIBLE, I can’t believe she missed that easy pass, what is she/he blind? Do you PAY for this child’s training, because if so, you need a refund…” and ad naseum. Thankfully, the referees, even those in their teens, are far more professional than the coaches and parents, and they do not give out such drivel. It is a point.

Hockey Canada and USA Hockey partnered several years ago to make a brilliant series of 30 second clips, which end with either “What i****ids treated us the way we treat them” and “If it is wrong, here, what makes it right at the rink.” It was part of their “Relax. It’s Just a Game” campaign in 2002-2004. USAV got permission to share them on the MVP CDs, as they are wonderful parent education clips. They can be found at the links below:

  • Click Here for the 2002-03 campaign material, PSA, radio clips, print material
  • Click Here for the 2003-04 campaign material, PSA, radio clips, print material
  • Well, leave it to some nine-year-old Canadian hockey player doing a school assignment to add another GREAT piece to YouTube in the same vein. To view a YouTube clip on Magic Hockey Helmet, click here. It is a MUST see, and must share to others as we continue to remind ourselves on how sports are for the KIDS, and must not be acted upon as if they are much older, or even professional. Miller got on Canada AM this morning, so this video has already been seen 100,000 times, but my bet is it will go viral as we share his insights and humor via the magic of his helmet.

    Dave Epperson, founder with his wife Bernice of the famous Volleyball Festival (now moving to Phoenix in summer of 2009) has been hard at work over the years working to help parents and other sports leaders get “Sport’s Promise” to shine, and eliminate the more negative sides seen in sport. His work can be found at Parents For Good Sports. USAV Affiliate Organization - the Positive Coach Alliance (PCA) - also has been working with USA Volleyball on an excellent program called the "PCA Coaching Tools". 

    Next up for me, a trip to Washington, D.C. to work over the weekend with parents, players and coaches, along side Stacy Sykora and Tom Hogan from our silver medal women’s team in Beijing. Then three days later it is off to the NORCECA Technical and Coaches Commission in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where we will be holding our 5th Annual NORCECA/FIVB Development Centre Teachers and Educators coaching clinic, with three-time Olympic Gold medal Cuba coach Eugenio George and some other great zonal coaches. This year the focus, per FIVB Development Commission member Mark Tennant of Canada, will be to build on the “Volleyball in the School Symposium” I spoke at in Canada in 2007, for the elementary age groups. Some good developmental things still happening at the 5-12 year old level and will share what I learn on my return.

    Thanks for all you do to help grow our sport. We know these other resources above can help you in this adventure – share more if you know of great ways to bring the magic and sports promise to build better kids and programs.