Abuse of Officials

Jan. 18, 2020

It is unfortunate that I have to send this reminder out about abuse of officials. This has become an epidemic within our association to the point that our own host arenas are going to take it on themselves to post signs reminding everyone to respect our officials.

Unfortunately, our association is becoming notorious as this year we have had multiple infractions by players directing verbal abuse towards officials and arguing calls. We have also had spectators acting in a disrespectful manner towards officials as well. The officials are in place to ensure player safety and it is not an easy job. The amount of attention to detail a referee must have, along with skating skill, in an emotionally charged atmosphere is a job that is not for the faint of heart.  
We had a coach meeting early this year and we discussed respect for the official and the proper protocol for getting clarification on a call. The only Players that should be talking to the referee must have a letter A or C on the sweater and be respectful. If a coach wants to talk to a ref they have to have a player with an A or C approach ref and make the request and referee can decline. Under no circumstances are spectators to interact with the refs by yelling from the stands. This unacceptable behaviour influences players to also break communication protocol and thus be penalized.
Officiating in minor hockey is a tough job that places a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of mostly our own children. There are 28 fouls, plus icings, offsides, with 12 players on the ice interacting constantly along with a fast-moving puck. Doing this all while being on the ice and skating. When they have to do their tough job in a hostile environment they often quit after their first or second season and never have a chance to become an experienced referee.
Remember that referees are doing their best and if we let them develop over more than 1 or 2 seasons they become more competent and confidant. Now in their duties, they have to conscious of game flow, how penalty stacking works when there are multiple penalties. Many people criticizing refs actually are often ignorant of the actual rules, the work a referee has to do and what it takes to become a good ref. Many spectators do not know for example that in a three-man system where there are two linesmen and one ref that the linesman are limited in their calls to majors, or bench minors, offsides and icings so that the referee can watch for penalties. If there is a minor infraction the linesman witnesses they can approach the referee and inform them and the ref can then make or not make the call.

Hockey is a great game and refs are out there because they enjoy the game too.  As an official, I can tell you that I enjoy watching a good close clean game more than anyone and watching from on the ice is a privilege. 
Officials are worthy of respect and if they make a judgment call you disagree with, yelling at them, criticizing them, is not going to change the call. In fact it actually helps their eyesight quite often and they see your team's infractions more often.
Going forward there will be zero tolerance. Managers, parent liaison or team staff need to enforce respect for officials. Spectators that are abusive towards officials will be asked to leave the arena.  It is unfortunate that we have to remind people in this day and age that this is a game, it is for fun, and respect is mandatory.
Thank you and Thank your officials

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