Canada is all abuzz over a recent bench clearing brawl at a hockey tournament between eight year old players which was caught on video. This is very unfortunate and is not limited to hockey by any means. Joyce Bassett from the Youth Sports Blog, had this to say after it was announced no charges would be filed due to the fight:

They had videotape of the fight between players, coaches and maybe even parents at a game involving 8-year-olds in Canada. (See hockey fight story below.) After reviewing the tape, no charges will be filed, according to the Globe and Mail. The hockey associations will conduct an inquiry. You can bet in Canada, where they take their hockey seriously, the associations will take a strong stand.

The videotape is important. I have videotaped games when my son and his teammates were just 10-years-old. Not just for the memories…but for evidence just in case something happened. Sad to say, but true…

Emphasis mine. Am I the only one that is totally freaked out by this statement?

Do any of you who video tape your kids playing, even in the back of your mind, think “At least I’ll have video evidence if something happens?” Violence at youth sporting events is thankfully rare, though even the rare events are upsetting. But allowing this type of thinking to gain a foothold is a very slippery slope indeed. I for one do not want to feel like I’m being ‘watched’ by other parents with video cameras as I cheer on my kids. Sure, you say, if you behave, what do you have to worry about? Ah yes, the age old argument of people who want to take away your right to privacy. But I digress.

I have no problem with parents video taping soccer matches – far from it. But once we start thinking about the surveillance aspect of video taping, it becomes a lot easier for things to get out of control. Parents get emotional during their kid’s games. Most of the time we keep things in check, but once in a while, everyone probably says something or does something, even unintentionally, that might cause an opposing parent to ‘go to the video tape’ Think I’m kidding? I think I had three instances this season where I was contacted about parental behavior and the words ‘and we have them on video tape!’ were used. In all cases the behavior was not ideal, but also not sanctionable and didn’t really merit more than a ‘watch yourself’ discussion if that. But the existence of a ‘video tape’ seemed to fire up the accusers more so than if they were just relaying observations of bad behavior and got them more upset when you told them the behavior didn’t merit much more than a warning.

My point is that if we all start video taping parents on the sidelines under some misguided notion that it will improve their behavior, we’re in for a big surprise. In my experience so far, it’s made things worse, not better, and also seems to embolden people to report mostly minor infractions vs. situations that really call for action.

If we’re going to use video to improve parental behavior, we’ll have much more success doing something like this instead. After all, it’s just a game.