November 30, 2012
Chirping and heckling at a hockey rink is a time-honoured part of hoserism, but it can go too far sometimes.
Keeping people from swearing in public — let alone in a hockey rink, where it can sometimes seem that English in superfluous to profanity — may be "like trying put out a fire with an eyedropper." However, the community of Amherst, Nova Scotia is vowing to sure as h-e-double-hockey-sticks try at games involving the Maritime Hockey League's Ramblers. In reaction to concerns about some of the taunting directed at players during a Bridgewater Lumberbacks-Amherst affair last Saturday, anyone caught swearing will be booted.
Drop the f-bomb at the next Amherst Ramblers game and it's going to be your last.
The Town of Amherst is responding to complaints of unruly behavior and foul language directed at players and fans at last Saturday's game between the Ramblers and the Bridgewater Lumberjacks by putting Amherst Stadium staff and security on notice: anyone caught using inappropriate language is to be escorted out of the stadium immediately.
"We all know that hockey is an exciting game and that sometimes emotions run high but the comments made at the last game go beyond the bounds of reasonable behavior in a public place" Amherst CAO Greg Herrett said.
... "This kind of behavior displayed by anyone attending a Rambler Game is disturbing and defies not only the code of conduct at the stadium but also common decency," [Ramblers president Jim] Henwood said. (Cumberland News Now)
The MHL has a reputation for being a little saltier and rough-hewn, both on the ice and in the stands, than its major junior counterparts. Before anyone goes off about "Language police 1, Freedom of speech 0," they should be aware this did not come out of left field. It was a response to a situation that cropped up during a particular game.
According to sources, the Lumberbacks lineup included a player with family roots in Amherst (pop. 9,700), an archetypal small town where gossip travels fast. Some spectators figured that for the price of admission, they were entitled to taunt the player about a very difficult family situation — while the 19-year-old had family in the crowd supporting him.
That is wrong. On top of adults being puerile toward a teenager, the language went beyond just getting on him for his hockey-playing. It might be tough to enforce a F-bomb ban, but clearly there is reason it has hit that point in Amherst. No doubt there are fans who see Ramblers games as the highlight of their week, which is great, but not when this happens.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.