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Abusing The Amateur Ref

from Tom Blackwell of the National Post,

Many amateur hockey referees have been in games where the officials lost control because of aggressive play, suggests a new study that takes a novel look at violence in the sport.

Almost half the hundreds of officials surveyed by medical researchers at the University of Toronto said they had been victims of physical violence themselves, from cross-checks to the head, to a fan’s sucker punch, to an attack by an irate parent after the game, according to the just-published paper.

The authors say their study is the first to examine hockey safety from a referee’s perspective, and conclude that officials may need more authority and support to maintain order on the ice and prevent concussions and other injuries. The researchers stopped short, however, of endorsing one respondent’s proposal: banning parents and fans from minor-league games altogether.

“Referees suggest that they are both physically and verbally abused,” the paper in the Canadian Journal of Sports Medicine notes. “This potential lack of respect and hostility for referees from coaches, parents and fans creates an environment that may put all on-ice participants at higher risk for injury.”


Filed in: Non-NHL Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink


Primis's avatar

There’s 2 things here.

#1, it’s beyond moronic to get into with an official because of a call, bad or not.  For all the things we, as fans, say… stick and stones may break your bones, but words do nothing.

#2… there is an exception, and I’ve seen it.  When an official is blatantly putting a kid, a group of kids, or a team at physical risk and/or danger because of their either ineptitude or bias, then they’ve made a bed they’ll have to lie in.  For instance, allowing Team A to repeatedly blatantly foul Team B without slapping them with T’s or Red Cards even though the rules stipulate you have to, and seeing the Team A coach on the sidelines actively encouraging it.

I’ve seen say, soccer or basketball games where before the game starts the parents whisper things like “Oh god, this ref is an idiot and is buddies with the opposing coach” and sure enough the ref proceeds to allow dirtiness by the one team to the point where kids start getting hurt.  My take in that situation is that if your truly gross negligence and/or bias is going to get MY kid hurt after parents and fans have been screaming at him to show some sort of control and fairness, all bets are off because the official already crossed a line then.  Whatever happens to him then… well, he/she created it, because you need to be smarter than to make someone watch their kid get hurt because you as an official have an agenda to push.

Some of you will disagree but… that “threat” I guess needs to loom for some officials or else they’ll do whatever they want, at the peril of the kids they’re charged with watching over and helping to remain safe.  And I’ll tell you this:  if I get a choice between someone perpetrating physical violence on a official that’s being stupid or watching a kid get seriously, truly hurt…. it should be obvious which one I’m choosing.

We could all sit here all day and hold hands and sing kumbaya… but deep down we all know there truly are amateur officials that deserve it.

Posted by Primis on 01/25/12 at 10:28 AM ET

Hank1974's avatar

You couldn’t pay me enough to referee a game - not even a Tyke game.
My kids are involved with hockey. My oldest is 8 and is playing Novice.
I’ve seen some horrible verbal abuse put on teenaged refs that was completely unwarranted.
And this is in HOUSE-LEAGUE games!

I’ve always coached, or assisted in coaching my sons teams. I’ve had to restrain other coaches and parents from going after refs.
It’s beyond ridiculous and it’s one of the major reasons why I’m not losing any sleep over the fact my son wants to quit once this season comes to an end.

I know many arenas in Canada that don’t allow parents near the ice surface. They have to watch from a glassed-in concourse section where they can’t be seen or heard (tinted windows).
All of the refs, coaches and players have agreed, those are the best arena’s to play in.

Refs need to be held accountable for letting some situations get out of control.
But from the 5 years I’ve been involved with minor-hockey (as a parent), I can say without waiver that every time I’ve seen a ref take verbal or physical abuse, it was unwarranted.
Parents involved with sports in general have gotten crazier every year.
I guess when you hate your job, your wife and your life, you have to sink all of your chips into the kids sporting activities to make up for the sorrow in your world.
No wonder 73% of kids quit organized sports by the age of 13.
I’ve seen the worst in human beings in minor hockey. It’s not pretty.

It also doesn’t help that people mimic what they see on TV which is countless NHL coaches berating officials without recourse.

Posted by Hank1974 on 01/25/12 at 02:41 PM ET


Let’s take a critical look at officials as well. How many refuse to answer even the most basic of questions to help calm the situation? How many seem more disinterested then the 4 year old left fielder? I think a few too many refs have wathced too much TV as well as the ref gives a cold shoulder to the bench.

I volunteer as a coach and have a strict policy for my kids, no arguing with the ref, their job is to play the game.  However, far too often, the referees show so little interest that the game winds up out of hand. We expect the kids to give effort start to finish, but the referees that are paid seem to lose interest once the game is decided.

I have pulled a kid from my team off the field due to his repeated fouls that the ref decided he wasn’t going to call anymore because the game had been decided. And that is an equal shame.  As a coach I feel it is my responsibility to ensure the safety of players on both sides, not just my own.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 01/25/12 at 07:14 PM ET

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