In ice hockey, officials are required on the ice to sanction a game and their job is to make important decisions on the ice while creating a safe environment for the players and themselves.
Lately there has been an increase in in-game abuse against referees, which in some cases has resulted in referees leaving the game entirely.
Earlier this year, Hockey Canada added the mistreatment section to its Anti-Discrimination Policy to protect both players and referees from harassment, abusive and disrespectful behavior and discrimination. Hockey Northwestern Ontario included this in their game guide for the 2021-2022 season.
To educate and educate the hockey community about mistreatment of referees and players, the ENT held an awareness campaign about mistreatment last week.
“The purpose of the campaign was to educate the community in northwestern Ontario of the rule changes and also to be a resource to highlight tips and responsibilities regarding the appropriate treatment of everyone involved, from players to parents to coaches and officials “Said Andrew Ktytor, ENT Marketing Specialist.
“We hope that some awareness at the beginning of the season will create a positive cultural trend that will ultimately make the hockey experience in northwestern Ontario as enjoyable as possible,” added Ktytor.
Ktytor mentioned that the reaction from the hockey community at the beginning of the campaign was very positive.
“A lot of people weren’t aware of the impact that abuse had on some of the players in the game, especially referees, as retention rates fluctuate over time,” Ktytor concluded.
Abuse includes willful acts that lead to harm or physical or psychological harm. Ill-treatment in all its forms is a serious problem that undermines the health, well-being and safety of all those involved in the game of hockey and is inconsistent with the core values of Canadian sport.
Bryan Graham is the Director of Officiating for ENT and he says the main reason referees leave the game is due to abuse.
“It’s a problem across the country and we’re trying to address it, and I think the abuse aspect that Hockey Canada has taken will help contain the abuse in this situation,” said Graham
This season the organization has seen a 30-40 percent decrease in referees, with only 165 referees signing up, almost 100 fewer than in the 2019-2020 season, when 249 officials took to the ice. Graham added that ENT has seen an increase in umpires since mistreatment was suspected.
“We did a really great job. Our umpires and bosses, especially in our west zone in Dryden, Fort Frances and Kenora, so we need to make sure they have that protection. They know they will be supported when they are on the ice a big part of it. As we know, there is no game if there are no officials. “
Information provided by Graham showed that the average age of those who become referees is 13-14 but leaves the industry at 17-18.
“We have to find a better way to get them involved and more involved in the game so that it is an enjoyable experience for them. We know that taking office is a tough job. “
Below are some of the rules associated with mistreatment against referees.
Section 11.2 Disrespectful, Abusive and Harassing Conduct states: A misconduct penalty is imposed on any player or goalkeeper who uses disrespectful language or gestures directed at the referee or any other person. Any team official who behaves in this way will be subject to a minor penalty, not a misconduct penalty.
Section 11.5 relates only to physical harassment of officers:
Any player, goalkeeper or team official who, before, during or after a game:
(a) endangers the well-being of a referee, linesman or off-ice official.
(b) Attempts to hit a referee, linesman, or off-ice official.
(c) willfully touch, hold or push a referee, linesman or off-ice official; or (d) willfully hit, trip, or perform body checks on a referee, linesman or off-ice official.
will be given a game penalty and the referee will report the person (s) by completing a match event report with full details and sending the report to the appropriate member or league delegate. Such a player, goalkeeper or team official will be suspended indefinitely pending an investigation by the relevant association.