Good sport doesn’t happen by accident, and neither does bad sport

June 29, 2012
Flaming Puck

Let’s look at the British Columbia Minor Hockey coach and the alleged tripping incident in a spring hockey league tournament this past weekend. If ever there were an incident that illustrates how bad sport does not happen by accident this is the poster child case study.

There are three unethical issues that most threaten Canadian sport today. They are: 1) improper sport governance of sport organizations, particularly those at the community level; 2) violence in sport, including gratuitous brain injuries; and 3) doping. This case hits two out of three: governance and violence.

On the face of it, this alleged tripping incident suggests that some adults can do stupid things in a sport environment. What could possess a grown man to allegedly assault a 12- or 13-year-old child and what is the appropriate sanction in sport that should be applied to such an action? 

This raises the question of under what authority or auspices did this weekend’s spring hockey tournament take place? From what I know of spring hockey leagues, the answer may be: it happened under nobody’s authority. If nobody is governing the spring hockey league, how do we ensure the kind of sport experience we want for our kids is provided? What responsibility does UBC have if it rented out its facility to this tournament and their organizers? What role does the City of Vancouver have in ensuring this kind of sport experience does not occur in its community sport system?

And what about the referees? The video of the incident has them standing idly off to the side boards and not closely monitoring the on-ice handshake. What is the appropriate role and responsibility of the officials? Who governs their conduct in an ungoverned spring hockey league?

Too many questions and too few answers. If you follow the commentaries on social media you get the sense that this kind of incident is not a rare occurrence in community sport, especially hockey.
Nobody wants this in our sport system. No one wants this in the great game of hockey. So what can we do?

Back to ‘good sport does not happen by accident, and neither does bad sport.’ We, all of us in sport, must act intentionally, deliberately to ensure the sport we want is the sport we have. It is not enough to be deliberate about skill development, physical conditioning, tactics and strategies and leave respect, fairness, safety and fun to chance. To prevent the kind of action we witnessed by the BC coach, we have to be as deliberate about the principles that drive sport as we are about the physical literacy required to perform sport. And the first step any sport organization, school, facility or community can take to become more deliberate is the join the True Sport Movement by going to