Referees typically make a lot of calls during a hockey game: offside, icing, goals, penalties. Occasionally some of these calls are questionable. Often spectators find it necessary to yell at the officials from time to time because, apparently, some of these questionable calls can make or break a hockey game. I suppose some spectators think that perhaps yelling at the refs will change the outcome of the game. Thankfully (or tragically, depending on the type of hockey fan you are), I don’t know enough about hockey to be yelling at referees about their calls. More often than not, something that looks real dirty to me is a clean hit. I think I know almost all the hand signals now, but I still tend to ask “our guy or their guy?” to the parent sitting next to me. I miss most offsides, because I’m stressing too much about this kid making a breakaway on one of the 3 goalies in our family!
Once in a while, those in the stands can get really irritated with the officiating; rarely do they express satisfaction with the officiating. “Great game! Those refs were amazing!” I don’t think so. There is a fine line between “Hey, let the kids play, Ref!” which means an official is calling too many penalties, and “Waddya blind?!” which means they are not calling enough (on the opposing team)! In the Ottawa District Women’s Hockey Association there are 29 first year officials which means each of my daughter’s games are bound to be officiated by someone who’s a newb. Let’s assume this stat is similar with any recreational minor hockey league. 75% of those will quit after their first year. The competitive divisions typically get more experienced officials and you’re more likely to actually see an adult doing the job but in recreational hockey, it’s almost always a teenager (and sometimes barely a teenager since they can start officiating games at 14 years old following training). They are paid $20 a game. It’s a great part time job but obviously you have to be thick-skinned.
The world and my local hockey arena would be a better place if everyone would think for a minute before opening their mouths: If this ref was an ace and able to see everything, would s/he really be a ref in a minor hockey game? In the end, it’ll all work out. Bad refereeing is like karma: what goes around comes around.
Though sometimes I wish my kids would give up hockey – at least give up being a goalie – I pray they don’t replace it with refereeing.