While they have caused many laughs and gone viral on the Internet, Jeff Doschadis' hope is that new signs on display at the Hoffman Estates Park District's ice rinks are making parents think.
The blue signs with white lettering read:
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"1. These are kids.
2. This is a game.
3. Parents should cheer for everyone.
4. The referees are human.
5. You and your child do not play for the Blackhawks.
If you don't understand this, please contact the ice dept. at (847) 781-3632. We'd be happy to explain it to you!"
Doschadis, who works as the general manager for the park district's ice operations, said he saw a similar sign online a while back and decided to mimic it. He said there weren't any particular example of bad sportsmanship that spurred his decision, but he thinks it's good to have the reminders on display.
The installation of the signs in September coincided with the park district's approval last year of a new anti-bullying policy and sportsmanship pledge for all sports participants, he added.
"I think nowadays that, financially, parents have expectations when it comes to their dollar and when their kids are participating in any sport, they have a level of expectations regarding playing time, whose coaching, things of that nature," Doschadis said. "It's just that people need to keep things in perspective."
So far, the response to the signs from parents, players and guests has been completely positive, he said. It's hard, however, to gauge if they are effective.
"If someone goes into the rink and it gives them pause, than that's an impact," he said. "It's just as a reminder that we're all here for the betterment of the kids."
The signs got more attention in November when the park district hosted a tournament with teams from across the U.S. and Canada, along with a few from outside of North America. Doschadis said he noticed guests were taking photos of the sign and sharing them online.
Now, he said, emails are coming in from all over the world asking about the sign. Those inquiring range from a representative of a youth sportsmanship group in London and a 15-year-old in Toronto to a hockey mom in New Jersey and a former Blackhawks player in Winnepeg.
"It's great that it's garnering that much attention," he said, adding that if a similar sign gets put up at every soccer field, basketball court, baseball diamond and gymnasium "maybe we'll be better off."