Parent and child perceptions of the frequency and acceptability of spectator behaviours in minor hockey


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between parent and athlete perceptions of spectator behaviours in minor hockey. Parents (n = 446, median age: 41-50, 37% male) and athletes (n = 74, median age group: Midget, 78% male) completed a modified version of the Perceptions of Spectator Behaviours questionnaire (Omli & Lavoi, 2009) to ask how often they witnessed negative spectator behaviours, and how acceptable they thought these behaviours were. Additionally, parents were asked how often they engaged in negative spectator behaviours. Results indicated that athletes reported seeing negative spectator behaviors (M = 2.32, SE = 0.07) significantly more frequently than parents (M = 1.95, SE = 0.03), t(518) = -4.92, p < .001. Athletes were also significantly more likely to report these spectator behaviours as acceptable (M = 1.70, SE = 0.06) than parents (M = 1.25, SE = 0.01), t(518) = -6.75, p < .001. Conclusions: Athletes' reports of seeing more negative spectator behaviors than parents is cause for concern and this finding may be explained by athletes themselves being the targets of negative behaviours of spectators during games. The higher frequency of witnessing these behaviours may contribute to athletes accepting them as 'part of the game', which may explain why athletes reported negative spectator behaviours as more acceptable compared to parents. These findings raise concerns about the normalization of negative spectator behaviours within youth hockey.