Minor hockey associations need young officials now more than ever.
The game of hockey needs them more than ever, but let’s face it would you want your son or daughter to be an official?
We all know the answer to that.
Sure there’s a percentage of parents out there that believe it’s great and extremely rewarding and an honourable job and you know something they are right.
Nevertheless, the game of hockey has a unique way of closing the door on its young officials.
Where lies the problem?
Obviously, it all starts with abusive aspects and total bull shit referees and young officials are confronted with.
Unfortunately, I’ve had my share of run ins with officials over the years.
I’m certainly not proud of it.
Actually looking back on it, I probably meant well, was trying to protect my players, but it’s still kind of embarrassing.
I was never assessed a bench minor. I was never ever thrown out of a game. I never verbally abused an official, but I did raise my voice a time or two.
I guess it all comes down to this foundation question.
Would you want to put your child in that situation?
Would you want adults yelling and screaming at your kid if they missed a call, a penalty or an offside?
You see it’s not so black and white. The game is in desperate need of officials, but the game is desperate need of cultural shift.
I’ve gone on record countless times harping on the importance of player development, what about developmental programming for young officials?
It exists and there are some exceptional resources out there.
You see the hockey playing world don’t always hear about that, because they’re too busy trying to get to the next level.
Some associations make it mandatory for their young elite players to take officiating courses and try putting on the stripes.
Personally I wish more associations would implement that, but again things aren’t always black and white.
You can search for the solutions and all the reasons why associations across the country and world for that matter are starving for young upcoming officials, but let’s face it we all know why and we have turned a blind eye to it for so long that the day of reckoning is upon us.
The game now more than ever needs to welcome and embrace young officials.
We need to give them room to grow.
We need to support and left them up, instead of grounding them before they can take flight.
The game of hockey needs to look at itself in the mirror and realize it’s not all about the players and coaches journey, that there’s another team in play.
Some may even argue the stripes are the most important team of them all.
The game doesn’t exist without the stripes, how’s that for being black and white?
Oh and the next time you hear a hockey crazed parent or fan belittle yell and scream at a young official, just imagine if it was your son or daughter how you would feel, but more importantly how would they feel?
Try this on for size, this comes from a longtime official.
“Imagine the father of the 16 year old referee screaming at your son the 14 year old defensemen when he coughs one up in the middle of the ice, what would you have to say or think then? Shoes on the other foot isn’t it?”
It’s time to take action and change the cultural norm and acceptance around abusing officials once and for all.
It’s time that more kids feel empowered and comfortable when it comes to putting on the stripes, but most of all it’s time for the adults to grow up, unfortunately some things aren’t so black and white.