Following The Path Of A Goldfish May Keep Our Game Afloat

"You know what the happiest animal in the world is? It's a goldfish. It's got a 10 second memory."

While the world may have fallen in love with fish-out-of-water football coach Ted Lasso over the past year, it's a lot easier to smile or chuckle at his maxims than to actually live them.

Especially in the stands at a youth hockey rink when a particular call goes against our little ones it can seem easier to hurl insults at refs than follow the path of Coach Lasso's goldfish.

So it should be no surprise that referees are hanging up their whistles in growing numbers, which is having a devastating effect on all youth sports.  

"Bad behavior from parents is one of the toughest issues for officials to deal with," says Chris Pimentel, president of the Northwest Stripes Group.

"Most parents unfortunately have very little knowledge of the rules or the application of the rules based on the level of hockey they are involved with."

So the next time you feel the need to yell about a call, perhaps it would be better to get in the fishbowl and see things through the eyes of an official.

Here are a few more thoughts from the pen of Pimental:

Creating A Better Environment
USA Hockey has zero tolerance for the abuse of officials and even with these standards in place, very few officials use this rule. In my opinion, hockey organizations need to educate both the parents and coaches of any new rule changes and have an understanding that verbal abuse will not be tolerated.
 
Dial Down The Diatribes
I started officiating later in life, so bringing life experience into this role was a big help to me. The game is full of emotions, and I can see how difficult the job of an official can be, especially for younger officials.

I was supervising a 10U game with a new official working his first game. The official had an experienced partner on the ice to monitor and manage the game. The new official was overwhelmed with the amount of screaming from parents and left in the middle of the second period. When this 13-year official was confronted by an angry parent off ice, I had to notify local law enforcement and had the parent removed from the arena.
 
Setting The Wrong Example
The off-ice actions by parents or spectators only make things worse. The verbal attacks cause a chain reaction that spills over onto the ice. Players can hear the abuse. If parents can abuse officials with no reprisal, players feel they can get away with it as well.
 
The Right Recourse
I rarely speak to anyone after a game. But if a parent wants to engage in a conversation, they need to have a calm demeanor. The few parents I have had conversations with just need a simple answer. 

Parents should attend a brief officiating seminar before the season starts. This may help them have a better understanding of the game.

Remember, USA Hockey officials love the game as much as players and parents do, and they are the first to admit they're not perfect. So if we all can have a bit more understanding, maybe we can find a little goldfish in all of us.

Issue: 
2021-11

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