01/18/2015 06:50 EST | Updated 03/21/2015 05:59 EDT

Vancouver Island Minor Hockey Considers Banning Spectators On Weekends

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The Vancouver Island Amateur Hockey Association is warning its members it is considering banning spectators from weekend games.

In an open letter, VIAHA president Jim Humphrey says the problem of spectators verbally abusing and harassing on-ice officials and players has become so serious the executive is considering spectator-free weekends.

In this scenario, spectators would be banned from the ice rink area which would be restricted to officials and players only. Humphrey says referees would not start games until spectators had left and would suspend play or games if they returned.

He says the executive is reluctant to take such drastic action, but the vindictiveness of a small minority is costing the association promising young officials and making it difficult for the players to have fun.

In order to avoid this situation, Humphrey is asking that parents police each other.

"On behalf of the game, we are asking that parents get involved and either ask those that are being inappropriate toward those on the ice to either cease and desist or leave the arena," he said in the letter.

Humphrey says playoff season is approaching and while the executive doesn't want to have to resort to banning spectators from the games, it will, if things don't change.


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