Early results suggest respect for players, coaches and officials 'primarily positive'
One year ago, Hockey Calgary implemented the Respect in Sport program, and made it a requirement that one parent from each family, and the coaches of each team, complete an online course. The course is to empower parents to ensure the safety of their children, encourage positive and effective communication, and to enhance a child's fun according to the Hockey Calgary website.
Calgary became the first community in Canada to make the course mandatory.
Respect in Sport
Cam Bell, a coach for more than seven years, describes the focus of Respect in Sport as, "ensuring that everyone has the utmost respect for other players, other coaches, the officials and all of our family members that enjoy watching our young kids play."
Respect in Sport is implemented through a one-hour, online course that provides parents with information on how they naturally influence their child, how they affect their child's enjoyment in the sport and provides them with tools to evaluate their behavior.
Where it all starts
Timbits hockey is for players ages five and six, and is celebrating its 10th year with Hockey Calgary.
The Timbits Operators Manual says that the philosophy of Timbits is to run a skill-based program that does not focus on winning, but rather on creating safe and fun environments for kids to learn the "FUNdamentals" of hockey.
"It begins here," says Todd Millar, president of Hockey Calgary.
Bell, who had three sons go through the Timbits program, says that Respect in Sport really mirrors what the Timbits program has been doing for years, and has taken those values and helped to maintain them beyond the program.
He has seen development in coaches, players and their parents through the Timbits program, and says it is something to celebrate.
He sees players go from wobbly-kneed beginners to powerful striders on the ice.
Moreover, he believes that because Timbits is a program focused on fun and creating a positive environment for everyone at the rink, it keeps people coming back.
Julie Weible, a Mount Royal University professor for physical education and recreation studies, is the lead researcher in a three-year study on the perceived effectiveness of the Respect in Sport parent program, and says that after completing 85 interviews, the results are "primarily positive."
From 1,400 surveys completed, the researchers were able to gather some quantitative data.
When asked the question, "Since completing the Respect in Sport program I know who to bring my concerns to," 51 per cent of the parents surveyed agreed with this statement while only 23 per cent disagreed, Weible says.
And, "After completing the Respect in Sport program I feel I am better able to create realistic expectations for my child(ren)s experience as a hockey player including ice times, skill development and role on the team," 49.9 per cent agreed while 22 per cent disagreed, she added.
Weible refers to Hockey Calgary in noting that the goal of the Respect in Sport program isn't to change the two per cent who don't act respectfully, but it is to empower the 98 per cent to know what to do.
This year the research team plans to ask if parents who have already completed the course have gone back to use it, while providing a different survey for new hockey parents.
Shawna Karst, a manager for the Timbits team Black Knights, says, "There is a lot of excitement in this city about hockey. A lot of kids love to play it, and it's nice to see it all come together and run smoothly."
Note: All findings in the research study are unpublished.
- By Deja Leonard