Overly intense parent-coaches in youth sports are a frequently cited stereotype, often portrayed in movies and television. Hockey in particular is often singled out as a sport containing an inordinate number of these parents. Yesterday, Martin Tremblay, a Vancouver father and coach of his son's youth hockey team, was sentenced to 15 days at a provincial corrections centre for purposely tripping an opposing player during the post-game handshake. (Video here).
In sentencing Mr. Tremblay, Judge Patrick Chen noted that Tremblay was in a position of trust as a coach and was supposed to be a role model. Instead, he ended up hurting a child in a post-game fit of anger. "Society will not tolerate the assault of children by adults. (The sentence is) a signal to other parents heavily involved in the sporting activities of their children that they must be seen as models of good and acceptable behavior, not as instigators of violent and of riotous behavior," said Chen as he ruled on this matter from the bench.
The 13 year-old Chen assaulted suffered an injured wrist requiring the use of a cast, while another child that fell did not sustain any injuries.
Tremblay pled guilty to the charge of assault in November and in January. Regarding sentencing, the provincial government asked for a sentence of 30 days of house arrest and probation, while Tremblay's counsel asked for a suspended sentence or large fine. Instead, Judge Chen elected to impose a harsher sentence, citing a number of serious aggravating factors (including a prior assault charge), noting in particular that the assault occurred after the game had ended and all participants are supposed to put aside any in-game issues for the sake of good sportsmanship.
The defense brought potentially mitigating factors to the court's attention, including the fact that Tremblay had not been taking his prescribed anti-depressant medicine for several weeks prior and had a psychiatrist opine that he was suffering from withdrawal. Clearly, the judge was not persuaded by Tremblay's arguments.
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