Where do the Referees come from in Minor Hockey?

Where do they get these refs??  Is there an IQ test or eye examination on their application form?  Do they get any training regarding the behaviour of children?  Do they have to demonstrate their skating ability and their ability to skate and blow the whistle at the same time?  Are they not told that their main role out there is to keep the game under control?  I am beginning to think NOT!!

The team that can skate faster, pass more efficiently, shoot harder/more accurately, and break out of their end better, (all those things the players spend hours practicing, and the coaches spend teaching, not to mention the $$ the parents spend so their kids can develop these skills)  should come out victorious, with a sense of pride in these achievements.  Even the losing team can recognize the signs they need to work harder to achieve these goals when they are beaten fair and square!

Bad referees can ruin a game, demoralizing and frustrating the players, coaches and parents.  I have witnessed many examples of poorly officiated games over the years, but our last game was the icing on the cake!

By the end of the second period the “Away” team had been assigned eleven penalties for a total of 38 minutes, including two 10 minute misconducts for “unsportsmanlike conduct”  Ironically, the two players getting these major penalties are typically our least aggressive, mildest mannered kids on the team.  The problem was obvious:  frustration!!   When a referee calls that many penalties on one team and only 4 for the “Home” team for a total of 8 minutes, (the favored team quickly learned how to take advantage of the situation) the frustration levels are guaranteed to run high. Especially as both of the unsportsmanlike calls were results of the referee not calling the opposing team for the infraction that caused the unsportsmanlike behaviour!  For example, in one incident, our player was slew-footed (for those of you that don’t know what that means, “slew-footing” is the meaner, dirtier, sneakier, more dangerous cousin of “tripping”, just ask Erik Karlson about that!) in the corner, jumped up (thankfully he wasn’t injured) and yelled “what the BLEEP was that??”  He was given two and ten minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct and harassment of the official.  His father was then thrown out of the arena for reacting to the bad call by banging on the glass and holding up his eye glasses for the referee to borrow (LOL, not sure who that man was!)

Needless to say, this game was well out of control at this point.  At the start of the third period, the score was 4 to 1 in favour of the “home” team thanks to several 5 on 3 opportunities in the first two periods.  At this point the referee must have (finally) noticed that the gamesheet was looking a little unbalanced under the penalty section, so he gave out a few more minor penalties to the home team to try to make up for his blatant favoritism (or poor vision, lack of skill, whatever you want to call it).  Some of these calls were poor, wild stretches of the imagination as well.

It is really unfortunate that the rule in hockey is that only the referee can assign minor penalties.  With three officials on the ice surely they all should be able to make calls to keep these games under control?  I’m sure there would be a lot less injuries, including the concerning  “concussion like symptoms” that appear to be on the rise.   Are three pairs of eyes not much better than one??  Maybe I should ask Don Cherry to debate this issue…

At the beginning of each season, the players sign a code of conduct in which respect is a key factor.  Referees demand respect from the players and coaches, what about the other way around?The last I heard, respect is a two-way street.   What respect were the players and coaches shown in this game?  When the players involved questioned the calls, they were given additional penalties.  When one of our assistant captains calmly questioned a call on the ice, he was told “I’ll talk to you later” which never happened.   Is that not a role of the assistant captain?  Our coach repeatedly called the referee over to the bench for explanations to his calls; he refused to go.  At one point, she opened a door on our bench, thinking the ref would come over to close it before proceeding with the game as he should.  Not a chance; he dropped the puck with the door open.  Oblivious?? Maybe.  More than likely he was intimidated by our cute, feisty, young, female coach.  Wake up, this is the 21st century, women can play and coach hockey.  She and other volunteer coaches deserve respect for making the time and effort to coach our children without getting paid to do so!   You want respect, you should try to earn it, not shove it down the players and coaches throats.  This wasn’t hockey, this was a bad rerun of “Who’s the Boss?”

The only lesson taught in this game was  a bad one…when the opposing players blatantly cheated by tripping, hitting from behind, and tackling our players, they were rewarded by receiving a man (or two) advantage for most of the game.  What a great way to win a game!  What a great way to spend a Saturday night!  I think I will encourage my son to give up hockey and take up curling next season, there are no referees to ruin that sport…

Lorieb is the mother of three sons, residing in Kanata, Ontario, Canada.  She is the proud owner of GARDENS4U, and spends most of her time designing, planting, and restoring gardens.  Her other interests include reading and writing.  Please check out her website at www.gardens4u.ca

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