Working Together Towards A Common Goal
Editorial By Greg Snyder; Referee In Chief - Petawawa

“Welcome to tonight’s game. Wearing the white jerseys tonight will be the team of Minor Hockey.  Their starting line up will consist of the executive, coaches and parents. The visiting team the Blind Lake Referees who arrived late this evening due to the fact that their trainer forgot the sticks. It should be an interesting game.    

Is this the way it is in your local town or city, referees on one side and the remainder on the other? It seems for so long that amateur hockey has had two teams, should it be this way?  It gets very frustrating at meetings to hear comments, “Call this, call that”, then it’s called. At the next meeting “The ref’s are calling too much”. These comments or suggestions are coming from others who have never worn a stripped shirt. “Oh I know you’ve been around hockey a long time, right”, Believe me when I say that being at ice level is totally different. I relate it to this, since I’m scheduled to go in next week and finally get this cast off my leg “I’ll say come on you idiot that’s not how it’s done” I’ve seen how to take a cast off on the discovery channel, I’m a pro now. Do you not think he would look at me like I have three heads? So why is it that people keep telling us how to do our job? You may think that I sound bitter, perhaps I am, but more likely frustrated. Yes I know it’s my chose to ref, but why can we not try to educate instead of turning a blind eye or blaming it on other people. 

I read many comments on this great website and approximately half are about referees. This one comment made me wonder "Every referee reads from the same rule book. If referees would simply call by the book and show more consistency, players and coaches would be required to accept that standard and abide by it. I think that until all referees think and act the same way and administer the rule book the way it was intended, we will continue to see problems on the ice, on the bench and in the stands”.  Perhaps if we were to clone Kerry Fraser or Paul Stewart that would help. I also read many articles of people saying, “The referee’s need coaching” Yes I agree but is that the sole reason or excuse for telling teenagers that they suck or their idiots or moron’s. Correct me if I’m wrong but if you gave this kind of verbal abuse to our own teenager, someone may be at our door to take your child away. Severe? Yes.  The editorial about HIGH TURN-OVER RATE AMONGST OFFICIALS………… got me thinking, these statements had me thinking;

“We all acknowledge that weak officiating exists, but the coaches must take responsibility for their players. The Editor says, “Take a team of NHL referees and have them do a tournament at the Atom level for an experiment. I would predict that blood pressures and stress levels would skyrocket among the officials after spending a weekend under the constant pressure of Atom level parents and coaches” He is absolutely correct. Perhaps some of my favorites like Dan Marouelli and Ray Scapinello would be up for the challenge.  

“So what’s the answer? EDUCATION and WORKING TOGETHER.  What would happen if associations had parents, coaches and players attend a mandatory meeting about rules, fair play and conduct.  Yes easy for us to do in a small town.

Why do I feel this way? I was lining a Jr.A game and the attacking team had players in the defending zone. A player outside the blue line rifles the puck towards the defending teams goal. My arm goes up right away for the delayed offside and the attacking team clears the zone. No problem right? At the next stoppage an alternate captain from the defending team comes over and tells that me that I should have blown the offside down as the attacking team shot the puck on the net. I calmly said “ About 8-10 years ago you would be absolutely correct” and he skated away kind of puzzled. Another case I remember quit well, when I was refereeing a Midget Competitive game. And again an alternate captain said “Our linesmen don’t have a clue what there are doing, on that last icing call the puck went through the crease and they blow it down” I said “And your point is…………please don’t embarrass yourself” and he quietly skated away. Encroachment would be another great topic, how many times have you heard “Drop the puck you idiot, we're not here to watch you” meanwhile the wingers are about 2 ft over the hash marks and the fans have no clue what encroachment even is. If the rule knowledge would increase with everyone involved it would cut down on a couple things. First and foremost abuse and embarrassment. How many hockey parents know that when you yell at the referee or just in general it embarrasses your child? I’ve heard many kids say, “I can’t believe my Mom’s making a fool of herself, I just want to have fun and play hockey”.  “I wish I could just go to the dressing room”

Referee-in-Chief’s should offer their time to coaches and parents to give briefings. If I were to continue as the RIC I would even go as far as having all officials present. Have discussions about game management and what is to be expected ie, coaches getting down off the bench to speak to a referee. Local hockey schools would be a great place to pass rule knowledge onto players and let them see that the officials are people too. Why is it that coaches never ask for our help? I’m quit sure if any official was asked by a coach to come out and help or explain some rules on the ice during a practice, the answer would be yes. Or even if the parents approached a coach and said “we’d like to know more about the rules so we can enjoy the game more, can you set something up”?

Just think if we all worked together towards the same goal, how much fun the kids would have playing this great game.  Having these meetings or briefings is good but if you’re going to let the coaches know what’s expected, don’t be surprised if they try the same approach back, as they should be afforded the same opportunity.

So if you’re a referee, executive member, coach, player or parent lets play on the same team instead of always against one another.

Approach your local RIC and find out how you can organize meetings to improve rule knowledge and perhaps it will cut down on abuse and embarrassing you or your child.
From the Publisher:
We at After The Whistle are grateful for the contributions being made by Greg Snyder. He has a very unique perspective on the game and is obviously very considerate of the feelings of the players. The solution that is being offered with respect to educating coaches, parents, players and other hockey parties is something that we are doing through our Hockey Consulting Firm. If you take a few moments to read through some of the services which can be accessed at the minor hockey organization level, you will see that we are proposing that associations consider arranging our specific "Game Appreciation" Seminar/Workshop in order to begin to cultivate a more positive attitude in the game.
Thank you again, Greg, on another great editorial.
Robert Kirwan: Publisher, After The Whistle


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