Guest Column - March 2006
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Remember, It’s Only a Game

Industry Viewpoint

By Jeff Rubin

The other strategy of the in-your-face campaign is what I have put in the ice since 2001. I came up with a catchphrase, "REMEMBER, IT'S ONLY A GAME," and I now see USA Hockey has started to use a similar phrase, "RELAX, IT'S JUST A GAME," which they have built a campaign around. The words may be different, but the message is the same. They have published and distributed posters and a even commercial using the phrase.

This is great! Are the posters enough? No! I don't think so. I think the words need to be more in your face. As I mentioned, I have put it into my ice. Literally. I put it in a spot where everyone can see it as they access the bleachers. I had people ask me why it was there when it was done for the first time. My response was, "It is to make people have a reality-check of why they are here." In my opinion, the 2-foot-high letters that are done freehand have been worth the 20 minutes it took to put in the ice.

I would like to make an appeal to all sports organizations from the pros all the way down to community practice facilities in all sports: Every sports facility should put either one of the phrases or something similar, you choose, directly on the playing surface for all to see as the sport is being played.

Let's get the zillion-dollar stadiums to place it on their fields and surfaces so it will receive national or worldwide exposure as all the major networks broadcast these events. Let it be part of their "commitment to community involvement" that they talk about. Let's get the NCAA to require it for all sports as well, so it can be seen during their events. Most importantly, it needs to be on the community level so high-school teams and youth organizations can see it every time they have a game or a practice. This also will force parents to see it as well. In your face.

The message doesn't have to be a certain size, but I felt that a 2-foot letter was large enough for people to see it with out wondering what it was. It can be any color as well. Place it in an area that it has the most visibility or the most in-your-face value. The biggest investment is the time it takes to write it out. Whether it is a mega-budget facility or a local community field, the more people who see it over and over, hopefully the more people will think of their actions before acting on emotions.

Please join me in getting the message out to the public. Let's be proactive not reactive to the rage problems we face day in and day out. Athletes have their own emotions to work through playing their sport; they don't need their own or some other parent or spectator telling them what they would have done differently. A reminder for the athlete is a good thing. For the parents and spectators, it's again that in-your-face reminder that what happens on the field needs to stay on the field. Everyone needs to conduct his or herself in the proper manner to, from and during games and practices. No amount of screaming, yelling, or fighting will change the outcome of the event.

Let's work together to make the sports community a better place. Keeping a positive outlook on sports during games and practices will achieve a positive experience for all involved in the activity.

Whether we make our living from sports, play for recreation or have kids involved, please, "REMEMBER, IT'S ONLY A GAME."


Jeff Rubin is the rink manager of O'Brien Ice Arena in Woburn, Mass., as well as a member of the board of directors of the North East Ice Skating Managers Association. He can be reached at