NJ Hockey Parents Should Be Able To Attend Games
Imagine this situation.
Your seven year old doesn’t just love hockey. He lives and breathes it. He practices and practices, and he gets so good, he gets an incredible opportunity.
Despite being a younger seven year old, he gets called up to play a Squirt game. There’s this little boy on the ice with 10 year olds. They just tower over him.
Undaunted, he steals the puck, goes the length of the ice. Despite getting knocked down by a larger kid, he gets the shot off, and he scores. He’s beyond excited, and just like he’s done since his first ever game, he looks to the crowd to look for his family cheering and giving him a thumbs up.
Except, they’re not there. Instead, it’s 19 degrees outside, and dad is sitting in a car desperately trying to get WiFi so he can watch this game.
Now, imagine finding out in another part of the state, parents were huddled together getting to watch their children on the ice. They got to see their children skating, but your child didn’t get to see his smiling and cheering family because of what now appears to be a completely arbitrary and capricious decision.
Well, that was my Sunday.
How is this allowed, but parents can’t watch their kids play hockey? This is the American Dream mall in NJ. Logic please? @GovMurphy @GunaRockYa @NJDeptofHealth @AlyanaAlfaro @kurtsiegelin @dracioppi @AAHAGlenn @NJYHL @MurryGunty @AtlanticDistr @NewsFallon @ActualAlexZ @mbzhad pic.twitter.com/WG4lKySXfR
— Ogie Ogelthorpe (@NopeyaDope) January 30, 2021
In that boondoggle that is the American Dream mall, parents were permitted to stand and watch their children skate. However, if that was a hockey game, they would’ve been cleared out because no spectators are permitted for youth hockey games.
Those people are masked, and the groups appear six feet apart. According to every COVID protocol we know, there’s nothing wrong with that. As hockey parents, that’s all we want.
But, we can’t. Believe it or not, we’re not even permitted to attend outdoor games. For some reason, that’s also not allowed.
Over the course of this season, kids have scored goals or made great saves. They’ve fallen and gotten hurt. They’ve had big wins and tough losses.
When those kids needed a reassuring face or a hug, there’s no one there. They just need to hope the WiFi was working so you could see the moment, and/or know they have to now try to convince someone at the arena they need to be allowed to enter.
Again, if this was an open skate or a skating lesson in a mall, this wouldn’t be an issue.
All hockey parents want is to see their children play. They’re happy and willing to do the temperature checks, fill out the waivers, wear as many masks as required, and stay as far away from everyone else as is required.
If it’s alright for a mall, it should be alright for a rink who has far less traffic and is better able to sanitize between games and events.
This isn’t pretending there isn’t a pandemic. It’s also not pretending there isn’t a need for safety measures. Making those counter-arguments purposefully misses the point.
Rather, this is about fairness. It’s about families and children.
So long as social distancing measures can be accomplished in an arena, and it can by marking off seats six feet apart like they do in restaurants where people eat unmasked, at least one parent per child should be permitted inside to watch their child play a game.
Really, this isn’t too much to ask.
We want to be there to celebrate. We don’t want to miss seeing them do what they love more than anything. Mostly, we want to be there to give them a hug to celebrate or to let them know it’s going to be alright.
Sadly, we can’t do that. Instead, we sit in idling cars in freezing temperatures hoping to get a glimpse. We hope not to miss anything, and we hope some day, someone will not punish our children and families because our kids are playing hockey.
Until then, we will all do what we need to do to permit our children to be able to play just like we’ve done all year. We’ll wait until we’re treated the same as that person eating in a restaurant, shopping in a crowded mall, or watching their child participate in a non-hockey ice event.