What Those Referees Are Really Thinking
By George Kurtz
I love hockey. I play it, follow it, play DFS and year long Fantasy hockey, and I’m also a referee at a hockey rink. I have been a referee at said rink for about 25 years. Why do I bring this up? Well, when watching a game, I’m not saying I never disagree with the refs, but I do see the game from a different point of view. I understand that referees are human. That they will make mistakes and that for most part, most don’t want to be a part of the game story. Here are a couple of facts about referees, what they go through, and how to interact with them, especially if you are a player.
1. Please stop thinking that the referees care who wins the game. We really don’t. The only thing we want is the game to end. Why? Well, like any other job, we want to go home as soon as our shift/game is over. Who wins or loses means little or nothing to us.
2. Don’t yell or scream at the referee if you are a player. That is not to say you can’t talk to most refs. Sure, there will be a small number that you can’t say boo to without drawing a penalty, but most won’t mind talking to you about a call as long as you’re somewhat civil. The problem arises when you yell or scream at the ref. That automatically puts them on the defensive and only leads to more yelling, screaming and eventually a ticket to the sin bin.
3. All referees know who the problem players/coaches are. We know who has the reputation for playing dirty. Whether a certain player will take liberties with their stick or give a little extra body shot. Trust me when I tell you, that it doesn’t need to be pointed out to us.
4. Get to know the refs. Now, I don’t mean have a chat with them and ask about their families, but all referees call a game differently. Some may allow more body work than others. Some won’t stand for any stick fouls. Some may look for any reason to blow off an icing. Whatever it might be, as long as they call it both ways, it shouldn’t bother you and you should understand going into a game what a ref is more likely to call and what they won’t.
5. Understand that the referees are going to miss calls. In a hockey game, there are 12 players on the ice. Just because you saw a play one way doesn’t mean the ref saw that play at all. He could’ve been blocked out by any number of players crossing in front of him or watching something completely different. It happens, there’s quite a lot going on during a game.
6. Know the rules. There is nothing that will infuriate a referee more than a player arguing over a correct call. Sometimes it can be comical listening to players. They will describe what they did or what happened, and then you tell you them that you agree. That’s exactly what happened, and it’s either a legal or illegal play and was called correctly because they didn’t know or understand the rule. It’s just a waste of time.
7. The three things you should expect from any referee are knowledge of the rules, hustle, and being in position. I get annoyed when my partner is not doing the same as I know it makes us both look bad and believe me, nothing makes me angrier out on the rink then when I’m getting yelled at because I have an incompetent partner.
8. Understand the game situation. If the referees are calling everything early in the game, then understand that for whatever reason (usually a directive from the league) we aren’t letting you play. If the referees have warned both benches that one more word or one more action will force them to call a penalty, then for crying out loud, don’t call their bluff to see if they will follow through. Refereeing is quite a lot like parenting. Sooner or later you have to do something you don’t want to in order to send the right message.
9. Never touch a referee. You really shouldn’t touch anyone in anger and a referee is no different. Do you always do your job perfectly? Would you expect to be physically assaulted if you made a mistake? Then why is the ref so different? Accept the call and move on.
10. Remember, if you are a fan, it’s just a game.