Is a hockey game any place for a baby? That’s the issue underlying a controversial decision by the NHL to ask a Manitoba couple, who’ve already paid $800 for 4 tickets to the Heritage Classic outdoor game October 23, to shell out an additional $400 to purchase a seat for their 6-month-old son. Mom Shalyn Meady says her baby is unable to sit on his own, and that she’s exclusively breastfeeding, making it difficult to be away from her baby for more than a few hours. However, she feels all babies should be welcomed, regardless of practicalities around feeding.
“Even for moms that formula feed, they should be able to hang out with their baby and go to a family event like this if it’s their choice,” Meady told the Canadian Press. “There’s a lot of people who don’t want to bring their babies, and that’s fine, too, but this is something we want to do as a family. I think there should be an option.”
At Winnipeg Jets games, children under two get in for free; at Winnipeg Blue Bombers games, kids under three don’t need their own ticket, according to the Canadian Press. The NHL, which puts on the Heritage Classic, doesn’t prohibit babies from games; however, the high cost of the ticket essentially makes the game a no-go for this couple. They’re asking the NHL to re-think its policy.
Reaction on social media has ranged from outrage over the idea of paying for a seat that won’t be used, to shaming the couple for wanting to bring a baby to a loud, potentially rowdy NHL game, especially one outdoors. A similar tweet storm occurred last spring, when a fan was arrested at a Blue Jays game for spraying a baby with beer. Many fans questioned the parents’ decision to bring the baby to a play-off game in the first place.
What do you think: are there some spaces and events that should be child-free? Is the NHL being a Scrooge for not letting tiny babies hang out in their carriers while parents take in a game?