Let’s Go To The Video Tape!

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.

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  1. I had a situation this weekend where a parent from the opposing team was filming the game. It was the coaches wife and I am sure they review the videos for training purposes. This was fine, but what was not ok was when I saw her pointing her camera at my team after the game. This really creaped my kids out and infuriated me. Why was she doing this? Hopefully our association will ask her. After the match, I was in the referee pavillion talking to the youth referees that were on our lines. One said that she kept telling him how bad his calls were and that she had it on video. How aweful to act this wat to a youth referee. Hopefully this will be addressed as well. He also said that she was over there taping the post game talk and had turned the camera on him to get a close up. He was really creeped out. Any suggestions?

  2. I think it will become common enough where leagues at least try to set some guidelines with the video taping. I have absolutely no problem with teams video taping their teams performances for later use (though good lord who has time to ‘watch tape’ every week along with practice, etc. I’ll stick with my notes jotted down during the match)

    But there are boundaries all parents should respect. One of them is the opposing team. Obviously you’ll catch players on the field. But afterwards, don’t point it at the opposing team or at a post game chat with the coach – that’s just poor manners.

    As for the referees – you gotta get over it. Referees in youth matches will ALWAYS make mistakes because they are human, just like the players on the field and coaches on the sidelines. What do you think you prove by bugging the officials saying “I’ve got your bad calls on video tape?” You just contribute to the ongoing referee shortage as more quit due to parent abuse and stuff like this.

    So by all means use video for training purposes if you think it’ll help. But stick to the game and turn it off otherwise.

    As for suggestions, I probably would have talked to the parent and explained how it felt intrusive to your kids and coach when they video taped them after the match. They may not have realized it (some people don’t). If they got righteous, I’d address it with the opposing coach.