Yelling at a child as Pastime

“‘We’ve been told to go die’: Teen hockey ref speaks about parents’ behaviour”

At the grocery store for bagging your items not in the order you like to unpack? At the christmas tree sales for selling you the tree you agreed to buy? At the lemonade stand for using sugar instead of honey like you expected?

The majority of rec hockey players, coaches, and spectators think they are “above” referees. That they know better than referees do.
I’m aware of the backlash I might receive by stating this, but you know my willingness to receive backlash: Not as many of you as you think are exceptions to this rule.

May not be out loud, but yes you have thought “Phhht! S/he missed that call” or “We had bad refs today” or in some way “evaluated” their performance. You may have even seen your teammate yell at the ref and did nothing about it.

Why is that offensive? Because you don’t know what goes on. In truth what you thought was an infraction may not be. There may be another very good reason that the call wasn’t make. You think you had the best view at what happened on the ice – so did the ref. And which one of you is trained to move into a position to secure the actual best view?

I’ve had many conversations with people who think they know what goes on in the world of referees. No, not empathizing. Actually thinking that they know.
They don’t. Only a parent knows what it’s like to be a parent. Only an accountant can fully understand why one accountant did the return the way they did. Skiers can’t understand the injuries snowboarders incur. Only a referee knows what referee does.

I am absolutely steaming right now because I know this post will make no difference. The conversations I have had with players and coaches (pro, rep, certified, experienced, or casual) keep swirling in my head as I type this. They will not ever change their mind no matter how much I break it down for them. They’d answer “I’ve been playing/coaching at this high level for 20 years. I know officiating” and flicker a smug smile.

Only way to change these people is to change the culture around them. So I’m counting on all of you.

Instead of “Phhht!!,” try respecting that the ref made the right decision (or the only decision available) and that, if you don’t know why, it’s because you don’t know enough to know why. If you have trouble empathizing, think about how you’d feel at your job. Someone walks into your classroom and berates you that you didn’t see that kid hit the other kid while you were writing on the smart-board. Or you hear a parent tell the child, “That teacher is an idiot,” and explains to you that to share in the disrespect is necessary in order to calm the child. A customer shouts at you for delayed shipment that FedEx screwed up. A first-year student who’ve taken a couple of physics classes mocks and laughs at the work you stamped as a registered professional engineer because they know they can do better than you did.

We have had a very long history of yelling at refs on TV or across a glass. I swear it’s more of pastime than watching hockey itself. You may not yell at another human being; people in stripes are fair game. Every occupation is respectable except for hockey ref – that’s hardly a job. Where did you learn all this? Just the same way you learned to love TML or Canucks or Habs – you don’t know why; you just do. It’s a culture. It’s been passed down for generations.

Let’s change that to a culture of saying to each other in a respectful tone, “Refs are doing their job.”

I promise you. If you stop yelling at the refs or if you stop others yelling at the refs, the quality of officiating will not go down because referees are self-motivated to do the best job they can. If you don’t believe me saying “Only those who really truly care about the Game become referees,” remember how many times your teammates screamed at a referee, and now think about how many times you got screamed at like that. Do you believe me now?


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