Sounding off on referee abuse

It’s been six years since I refereed a minor hockey game and after hitting the ice again, it seems not much has changed over the years when it comes to how officials are treated.

The parents and coaches still get on the refs for many calls or non-calls, which is one of the reasons I came back to put on the black and white stripes.

The exodus of young referees continues to grow right across the country.

Steps have been taken to curb the abuse of our young boys and girls who try their best to enforce the rules but it seems some of the logic behind the request for respect is lost on a few individuals. But that’s all it takes to send a kid packing.

I read an article recently which pointed out how we are quick to get on a person disturbing us in a movie theatre but mutely stand by in a rink when some ‘fan’ is berating an official for a perceived wrong.

I know many referees who will tell you straight up they have never called a perfect game and yet so many people feel that’s what needs to happen each time their team or child takes the ice.

If there are mistakes made, then self-appointed protectors of what is right on the ice are quick to point out you’ve made a faux pas and you should not make another mistake.

Are officials perfect? Not a chance. Are there bad calls made? Absolutely, but do they really deserve the abuse rained down on them from the stands or from behind the benches?

In my experience the majority of fans, coaches and players are very good during a game but when things go south, while I have a fairly thick skin most comments directed at me bounce off.

But for a young official those insults can be very cutting and ultimately drive them from the game which is not helping your team, your child or the sport in anyway.

Amazingly enough, the officials don’t really care who wins the game so there isn’t the bias some feel is behind the calls against their team.

While you might not agree with some calls made by the refs I would think most people would be on board with stopping short of a profanity-laced tirade at a teenager just doing a job on a weekend to the best of their ability.

The question is – how do we stop those people who can’t seem to stop themselves?