Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Time Out For Our Hockey Refs

    My blog so often features the perspective of parents and coaches. All good stuff. This week, we're taking some time out for the referee. We can't play the game without them, so here's a great reminder of the importance of fair play, courtesy, striving spirit, and grace in losing, from inside the glass.


     We walk into a rink for a game with our bags over shoulders and no sticks in hand. We are instantly identified as “the ref. ” Rather than being hailed as the heroes, the guys who will keep everyone playing by the rules, we're thought of as the mortal enemy of both teams and fans. Time out! We put our skates on one foot at a time and pull our jerseys over our heads, just like your players. But unlike your players, it's rare for us to have anyone cheer us on. That's unless we fall down, get knocked over, get hit with the puck or anything else that causes us harm. Fans seem to enjoy those moments. It's true that a clear undisputed call such as icing or even off-sides receives its fair share of disapproval from all in attendance. Even calling a blatant penalty that is “text book” directly from the rulebook garners a medley of objections, criticisms, and comments. The worst appears to come from the majority of parents, who apparently have never read a rule book (www.usahockey.com ). It even happens at the professional level (witnessed as a fan not a ref). The referees are despised and obnoxious fans call out a plethora of comments when they don't like a call. I think it sometimes gets lost on fans, that we officials are only there to make sure the game is played to the highest level and standard which is mandated by the governing league. Personal safety and sportsmanship are paramount next to good positioning and interpreting the rules the best we can in every situation. It is not an easy job!


    Parents need to know that the majority of the referees (myself included) have played, coached or been involved in this game enough to understand that it is one of the most amazing sports to be a part of. Our children, spouses, friends and family come to watch us as well. Are we perfect? Absolutely not! We make mistakes from time to time and that is why we have partners on the ice, evaluations and a reputation to uphold. Things are not always “black and white” in the heat of the game. Most of the more skilled and experienced referees who officiate the higher level games are there because of the merit that they have earned throughout the years.


So,  perhaps in the future, next time you see a ref walk on or off the ice,  instead of saying “you stink” or far, far worse, how about following your mother’s advice “if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all”.  Or, why not to compliment us for the good things we have done as we do this for the love of the game…

~ The “Whistleblower”

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