Was The Boston Ice Hockey Mom Right Or Did She Go Too Far?
Gina O’Toole, the now infamous Boston ‘hockey mom’ whose spontaneous intervention in her teenage son’s hockey game birthed a national ruckus – certainly thinks so.
A video of O’Toole balling out referees for standing by as a full-on fight broke out between Boston Youth players – the Boston Raptors and the Connecticut Tribe - has since gone viral.
On Monday, the Lynn police detective’s wife told Good Morning America,
“I’ve seen fights usually between one or two children and the refs usually step in immediately and break it up,” O’Toole said.
“That didn’t happen. I just found myself opening the gate and walking onto the ice and saying, ‘Hey, you need to get control of this game. What are you doing?’”
Infuriated at the ref’s response, O’Toole says she was yelled at and told to get off the ice, the frustrated mom says she told the ref, “You need to do your job.”
For her part O’Toole says she was concerned about the player’s incurring head injuries on the ice.
Amid the mayhem some spectators screamed at O’Toole to get off the court while others encouraged her. O’Toole’s post-intervention reaction to that response?
“A lot of the people that were there were feeling the same feelings that I was,” said O’Toole. “Feeling, that, ‘What is going on? This is insane. It’s gone on too long. Why aren’t the referees stepping in?’”
But while O’Toole’s actions have turned her into an internet hero (for some), they also raise important questions about spectator conduct, officiator standards and violence in sport.
While there’s no suggestion of O’Toole facing criminal trespass charges, not everyone approves of her actions. Sports writer Eric Holden sees numerous failures in the incident.
“The athletes […] failed because they are supposed to be a reflection of their coach and the program they are representing by demonstrating self-control and sportsmanship,” writes Holden.
“As for the refs, they failed to keep the game clean and orderly, while losing control of the rising tensions that were brewing. ”
“Once the fight started, one ref appeared to just stand and watch without jumping in to break it up, which led to the “hockey mom” walking onto the ice.”
Then directs some of his disapproval to O’Toole,
“[...] the “hockey mom” was also in the wrong because a spectator is supposed to conform to the good standards of sportsmanship by showing respect to the officials. Not only did O’Toole trespass into a restricted area, she also used foul language and made threatening gestures towards the officials.”
So who’s right?
If every parent took matters into their own hands at sports events it would be chaos, and in gun-friendly America it could even be fatal.
But, the point remains that the refs should have stepped up. Whether youth league or professional, ice hockey isn’t for the fainthearted. If a player has been critically injured because of the referees’ failure to stop the fight, it would be a different kind of video making the rounds today.