I recently joined a hockey mom group thinking, well, honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking now. I would not sit anywhere near many of them at a game after seeing some of the things they are saying on social media. They are definitely not my people. There were so many posts complaining about referees, and look, I get it. I’ve been pretty mad during a few games in my time, but the honest truth is it didn’t affect the outcome. We didn’t lose any games because of the referees. We didn’t win any either, and if you think that way, you certainly aren’t doing your child any favors.
The view is different on the ice. It’s different on the bench, in the scorekeeper’s box, the penalty boxes, and up on the stands. I would encourage you to go check out some GoPro videos on YouTube and get a look at how different it is. It’s not like watching from the stands at all, not even if you’re watching right on the glass. It’s not like when you help with doors for a game or keep score or run the clock. The view is different, and different doesn’t mean wrong.
The referee’s job is also NOT to call every single penalty. In fact, in youth hockey, they spend a lot of their time teaching the rules of the game and giving the kids words of encouragement. It is also important to remember that you are probably paying attention to your child, whereas the referee is watching all of the action on the ice. They’re human, and they aren’t going to see every little infraction, and sometimes they will make mistakes. Chances are pretty good it’s not going to affect the outcome, though, and the vast majority of the time, they aren’t making bad calls on purpose.
The ref has the whistle. They are the boss of the game. You aren’t going to like every call, your child isn’t going to like every call, their coach isn’t going to like every call, but that’s the deal. Ref’s whistle, ref’s game. Period. Complaining about the refs might be part of “the experience” for you, but you do want to think about the example you are setting. Is disrespecting authority figures something you want your child to do? If you complain about or yell at the person in charge of the game, you are undermining your own authority by teaching your child that it’s okay. They are soon going to start disrespecting you and others because they have watched you do it to others.
Complaining about the refs also says you think it’s okay to make excuses or blame others. We aren't always going to have positive outcomes from our efforts in anything, but if you blame the ref for that loss, you are really saying their efforts didn’t matter because it was someone else’s fault. If we want our kids to take responsibility for what they can control, why would we want them to think they have an excuse always at the ready? They can control their efforts, actions, and responses to situations, but they can’t control the outcomes, so instead of complaining about the referee, we need to look at things we might need to fix or improve. We want them to be resilient and able to overcome obstacles, not blame others for anything and everything.
Referees have more important things to worry about than some hockey game, as do we as parents, and most referees get into officiating with good intentions. They aren’t trying to make bad calls or make the game one sided, and there are even times where refs need to be held accountable, but shouting at them and publicly humiliating them is not the way to handle it. The way we act affects our children whether it is through sports or in some other area of our lives.
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