With the Olympics in full swing, sportsmanship is the name of the game … as it should be at all sports events.
We don’t need to look overseas to the big guys to see examples of sportsmanship. Sometimes we need only to look in our own backyard at the little guys … in particular one guy. Peewee hockey player Matt Marotta stands alone, literally, among his team as an example of sportsmanship.
After his team lost at a tournament in Vernon last week, in overtime on a disputed goal, he was the only player on the Viking Construction Tier 1 Cougars hockey team to shake hands with the opposing Nanaimo Clippers (see letter on next page).
Even though coach Ryan Arnold called his team off the ice, in classic unsportsmanlike conduct, Marotta defied the adult supervising him and did the right thing.
That takes a tremendous amount of courage.
His actions brought tears to the eyes of many of the adults in the arena, has set off a social media frenzy, and is being praised by all … except the Prince George Minor Hockey Association and, likely, his coach and teammates.
Prince George Minor Hockey Association president Alex Hartney was quoted in the media as saying it would investigate. While it’s understandable that the association can’t just react and that it should investigate, Hartney’s comments didn’t leave the impression much would be done.
He said the association would talk to the parents who were at the game. He didn’t mention, and perhaps it was just an oversight, that they would be talking to the officials who were on the ice at the time or the Vernon tournament officials. It would certainly be prudent to talk to those people as well as the Prince George parents who were there.
Hartney also commented that coaches get heated during games and pointed to Vancouver Canucks head coach John Tortorella as an example.
There’s one problem here … this isn’t the NHL, this is minor hockey and the kids involved are 12 years old. Minor hockey coaches who think they’re in the NHL are probably the biggest problem the sport has and the association seems to think that’s an excuse for bad behavior.
It’s not. Coaches at the minor hockey level who can’t control their temper simply shouldn’t be coaching. It’s that simple.
Hartney is right that the association should investigate this incident before acting, but it would be nice if the public could have confidence in that investigation.
And if you happen to know, or see, Matt Marotta, shake his hand, tell him he did the right thing.