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’.