(photo: waicehockey.tumblr.com)

By Rochelle Bergman

I came across an article this week which made me wonder about amateur hockey players, their parents, and how far officials will go.

There is a growing problem concerning physical and verbal abuse against referees who officiate amateur hockey in Canada and the United States. I read about referees getting punched, things thrown on them, body parts getting broken, and a lot of verbal abuse. Last month a ref was punched into unconsciousness in Canada for doing his $35 a game job.

Sports Officials Canada, who represent sport officials, has begun to track incidents in parking lots after games. That is right, refs have been hurt after the game, in the darkness of the arena’s parking lot. Who does that? Their goal is to start-up the abuse database. The U.S. National Association of Sports Officials spends around 20% of their time on abuse issues. This is up by 3% in the last 20 years. What is happening out there? Why are we getting more violent? Are we getting more violent, or are we just hearing more about these incidents?

I always thought that it was the parents of the players who got mad at the referees. You hear horror stories of a parent who didn’t like it when a referee called their kid off the ice. Those are parents with little kids, which is still no excuse. It’s the older players who can cause bodily damage to the refs. Where is the spirit of the game?

I don’t know the future of the game but it can go two ways: 1) It just gets more abusive or 2) it gets less abusive. Do we want the game to be full of black and blue officials on the ice ($35 will not be enough), or do we want a game full of fun where we teach our kids how to respect people?

The choice is ours, the fans’.

Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, her team is always the Toronto Maple Leafs. Instead of falling for movie stars, Rochelle fell for hockey players. As she grew up, her passion grew to include wanting to be the first female NHL player, the first female 'water' girl for her team and catching a true NHL puck. She did try for the puck, only to learn that A) the puck could have killed her, if she tried to get it or B) you needed to buy one. Years later Rochelle still loves the game! Now a days instead of wanting to join the players, (don't let her fool you, she still wants to join the team) she writes about them. Her one wish in the world is to be alive when the Toronto Maple Leafs win their next Stanley Cup! Rochelle has a certificate in Marketing/Communications at the British Columbia School of Technology and a writing certificate from Simon Fraser University. She has started her own writing company, "From Rochelle's Pen".

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