Stronger Penalty for Hate Language: A Message from USA Hockey
October 30, 2019
Dear USA Hockey member –
As the hockey season begins in full, we continue to receive reports of disturbing incidents involving racial and other derogatory slurs, behavior which is reprehensible and has absolutely no place in our game, especially around our children.
As you are all aware, USA Hockey has long had a Zero Tolerance Policy towards any type of abusive conduct, specifically under Rule 601 (e.3), which states that anyone who uses language that is offensive, hateful or discriminatory in nature anywhere in the rink before, during or after the game, shall be assessed a game misconduct penalty. For reasons which I cannot explain or understand, this penalty does not seem to be enough of a deterrent to stop this conduct.
I am issuing a directive effective immediately that anyone assessed a penalty under Rule 601 (e.3) will now receive an automatic Match Penalty, in lieu of the game misconduct penalty that currently exists, and shall be immediately suspended until a hearing is conducted by the governing USA Hockey Affiliate or junior league. The applicable Affiliate or junior league is required to conduct a hearing within 30 days of the incident and the individual may be subject to further discipline.
Further, our on-ice officials have protocols in place that address situations where a player is accused of saying something that violates Rule 601 (e. 3) but is not heard by the officials. While the officials cannot assess a penalty in that circumstance, they are instructed to notify the coach of the offending team and it is critical that the coach take immediate and appropriate action. Officials must also report the incident through the game reporting system, and Affiliates must review all incidents, whether penalized or unpenalized, to ensure proper application of the rules.
We also receive reports of racial harassment and discrimination among teammates; this behavior must be addressed through submitting appropriate reports through our SafeSport Program.
Parents and coaches, please take the time to address these issues with your kids. Helping educate them on these topics is an important part of our overall effort to eliminate any type of discriminatory language or behavior from our sport.
While the vast majority of our hockey games are conducted in the spirit for which they were intended, we must remove offensive, hateful or discriminatory language or behavior from our game. Please join me in stamping it out and ensuring we have an environment that is free from discrimination of any kind.
Thanks for doing your part and I hope this will be the best and brightest hockey season for you and your family.
The member towns and coach of each team are responsible for the behavior of the spectators from their town. If the spectators get unruly or abusive during the game, it is up to the direction of the referee to stop the game and determine who is at fault. If it can be determined whom or what town is at fault, they shall forfeit the game. If it cannot be determined who is at fault or it is unsafe to continue the game, it will be stopped and the Disciplinary Committee will make a decision.
1. The South Shore Conference will establish a discipline committee to investigate and conduct a hearing if appropriate, concerning any major incident involving spectator or parent. An officer of the SSC will chair the Discipline Committee. The discipline committee will be comprised of three members of the Executive Board and two Program Directors on a rotating monthly basis.
2. A major incident shall be defined as, but not limited to, the use of obscene or vulgar language, verbal: physical abuse, taunting of players, coaches, officials and throwing of objects in the viewing area, team benches, or ice surface, etc.
3. When a major incident on the ice rink property used by the SSC involving a parent or spectator is brought to the attention of the SSC Executive Board by rink officials, ice officials(referee or timekeepers), incident reports or other programs, the affected programs will be notified by the SSC President or designee.
4. The program(s) will have 48 hours to respond with recommendation for discipline to the chairperson of the Disciplinary Committee. The program will identify everyone involved. If the program’s action is deemed acceptable, no further action shall be taken. If the chairperson of the Discipline Committee deems the program’s recommendation unacceptable and/or inadequate, the individuals involved will immediately be suspended from all SSC activities until the incident is resolved. The Discipline Committee shall convene to investigate the incident and to hold a hearing within one week. All parties involved in the major incident shall attend the discipline hearing.
5. Annually prior to the start of the hockey season, each program will be responsible for sending written or electronic notice to the membership advising them of RULE #19, a copy of the letter will be submitted to the South Shore Conference President no later that the September directors meeting.
This is a message from the President of USA Hockey:
As we begin the grand celebration of Hockey Week Across America today, it’s a good time to reflect on how fortunate we are to be part of this great sport of ice hockey and the responsibility we all have as stewards of the game to help it continue to move forward.
Over the past decade in particular, our sport has enjoyed significant growth at all levels; we’ve advanced the environment for our players through enhanced safety initiatives and with fun and age-appropriate learning taking center stage through our American Development Model; and the success our teams have enjoyed on the international stage at all levels has been second to none.
While we’ve done much together, we have much progress yet to make.
Unfortunately, this season has included some ugly incidents of racial slurs and intolerant behavior in our programs.
It’s important that as parents and coaches, we educate our children as to what is acceptable and what is not, and also to make sure we practice what we preach. And when kids (or adults) step out of line, we must hold them accountable and help them learn from their mistakes.
Behavior that is hurtful to others in any capacity has absolutelyno place in our sport and is something we have zero tolerance for at USA Hockey.
Together, we must make progress on eliminating intolerance of any kind and also enhance our efforts related to diversity and inclusion.
We look forward to welcome new families to our sport next Saturday (Feb. 23) through our national Try Hockey for Free Day, presented by SportsEngine, that is part of Hockey Week Across America. For more information, click here and I encourage everyone to invite families with children that have never had the chance to try our sport to come out and do just that on Saturday.
If you’re not aware, today our women’s national team faces Canada in Detroit at Little Caesars Arena at 12 noon ET (live on NHL Network) in the final game of the Rivalry Series, presented by TCF Bank. In addition, we’re excited to have nine-plus hours of hockey coverage through NBC’s Hockey Day in America happening today as well.