Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Donald R. LaMagdeleine

Second Advisor

David W. Peterson

Third Advisor

Steven Emerson


Over the past 20 years, parent involvement in youth sports has changed significantly. Parents are increasingly involved in their child’s sport: encouraging them to participate year round, attending all practices and games, investing thousands of dollars, and often telling the coach how to coach the team. Because of this time and financial commitment, parents now take on their own role in their child’s sport. In this exploratory study, I looked at parental behavior and the relationship bonds made through youth hockey. The research was conducted in a Midwest town with both the local youth hockey program and High School Hockey program. Fifteen participants were researched, including: Athletic Directors, coaches, and parents.

Throughout this dissertation, a dramaturgical lens is utilized to analyze sports parents’ behavior. Parents use hockey as a stage where the child learns life skills necessary for his future. They see practice as the rehearsal and the game as the performance. Parents rely on the coaches to teach the life lessons in the front stage, and parent’s follow-up on these lessons in the backstage. When things do not go as the parents have scripted, they lose their dramaturgical focus and go off-script behaving inappropriately.

Parents and coaches must work together to co-direct the life lessons they want the athletes to take away from their sports participation. By clearly understanding each other’s roles, parents and coaches can more effectively work together. Coaches’ and parents’ expectations are analyzed in this research, providing a better understanding of the expectations each group has of each other.

Parents have changed their focus from activities for their own enjoyment to focusing on their child’s activities. The level of commitment required of hockey parents approximates the level of commitment required by sects and cults. The social connections parents make through their membership in a “hockey family” is formed and social capital is created. This close-knit group contains many of the same characteristics of benign cults. By analyzing the data using religious and cult terminology, the dynamics of the “hockey family” is seen in new ways.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

This file may be slow to open due to its size. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."

Included in

Education Commons