Man up, boys (and parents)

Robin Short
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Strange as it may seem, there’s a small, teensy part of me that understands the actions of a few Gonzaga Vikings high school hockey players the other night.

They’re 16- and 17-year-olds, and 16- and 17-year-olds don’t often think with their head.

To be blunt, they do some stunned things every now and again.

I don’t condone what the handful of Vikings did at Feildian Gardens last Wednesday night. I don’t accept hiding under the cloak of emotions running high, or the bitterness of defeat.

But I understand.

So I’m not prepared to tar and feather the few players who snapped off hockey sticks, lunged at and cussed out the officials, “flipped the bird” at The Telegram camera, or even the snot-nosed kid who told our intrepid photographer, Keith Gosse, to get the, “f...king camera out of my face” and proceeded to knock Gosse’s arm.

Funny thing is, the kid was six to eight feet away from Gosse when he skated — snarling — towards the camera.

Anyway, this all came about after the referee elected to run off the remaining couple of seconds on the clock when things were getting tangly in a one-goal game in the St. John’s High School Hockey League final against the Holy Heart Highlanders.

The Highlanders celebrated. The Vikings snapped, as coach Peter Keough, who apparently doesn’t believe The Telegram got the “proper story,” lost control of his high school kids.

What I cannot fathom, however, is the reaction of those who fling blame at anyone and anything for the actions of the few Vikings, rather than reprimanding the players.

Those who, in effect, excuse the inexcusable.

The Telegram has been taken to task for publishing a couple of photos of the player barking into the camera, of another offering the universal “up yours” salute. Reporter John Browne has been chided for writing the story. A few mindless wonders even suggest Gosse was at fault, that he should have instead focused on Holy Heart’s celebration rather than the fracas going on around him.

No, what’s most shocking in all of this is parents — and, yes, the comments from adults and kids flooding The Telegram’s website can be differentiated — astonishingly pecking out excuses for the little darlings, that, you know, ‘kids will be kids and shame on you for picking on them.’

All along, I assumed the thing to do was to “man up” when you were in the wrong.

Except when it happens in the rink, apparently.

One nitwit parent writes, “The photographer got in the penalty box area after the game without identifying himself to the players and invaded their personal space while they were very upset and snapped dozens of photos without their consent. Most of them thought he was a parent of a member of the opposing team who was trying to rub it into these boys’ faces that their team had won.”

Which, in that case, the actions of the players would have been entirely tolerable?

Where is the plain, simple acknowledgment that some of these kids acted like spoiled brats? That such boorish behaviour is unacceptable?

There is one positive to come from this, and that is Gonzaga principal Ted van Nostrand, who failed to downplay the event or slough off the blame elsewhere.

Rather, van Nostrand admitted Gonzaga was “disappointed,” “embarrassed” and “in no way condoned” the actions of the players.

The school, he said, is, “putting appropriate consequences in place for unacceptable conduct.”

Hard as it is to say, let us hope Ted van Nostrand has more of an influence on his students than some parents we’ve encountered, if only through words, these past few days.

Robin Short is The Telegram’s Sports Editor.

Organizations: The Telegram, High School Hockey League

Geographic location: Feildian Gardens

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Recent comments

  • Astounded
    April 09, 2011 - 16:36

    I find it absolutely amazing that these articles continue to be published. Not only is this paper not giving credit to the winning team, but it continues to slander another while completely disregarding the comments of its readers. Short states parents are “pecking out excuses”, and although that may be true in some cases, this entire article just seems like another defamation of Gonzaga in an attempt to make excuses for the previous biased article published by The Telegram. Short also claims to “understand” the players before then going on a tirade of every possible thing they did wrong. Not only are these snarky comments and blown-out articles not appreciated, but they are uncalled for and in many cases unprofessional. It’s understood that the players on the Viking team reacted terribly and to my understanding, although there is obviously no mention, the HHM players and fans reacted badly as well. So while a handful of players are receiving tarnished reputations, what are the one’s who deserve recognition getting? The Telegram needs to get its act together and select its articles more carefully. While you’re doing this maybe you can get a real article written about the winning team and stop writing this tabloid garbage.

  • Tim Ryan
    April 09, 2011 - 06:56

    Good morning, Seems my request for a simple picture of my boys with the trophy and a caption reading: "Congratulations to the HHM Boys." was overlooked. Instead, here we are STILL talking about Gonzaga. To the parents and players of HHM: great job this year! Tim Ryan Asst. Coach

    • Mike Keough
      April 09, 2011 - 15:38

      Parents get a clue!There is no excuse for the players actions. Thats whats wrong with society ," our kids can do no wrong!" . I guess the old saying is appropriate "a picture is worth a thousand words" . Own up to the problem and move on.To end with another quote "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree".