A shakey solution

Referee and play contact outlawed

This is an image of a referee and a person on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016 shaking hands. (Photo by Ruwald de Fortier /SAIT)

This is an image of a referee and a person on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016 shaking hands. (Photo by Ruwald de Fortier /SAIT)

A new rule introduced by Hockey Calgary has caused plenty of confusion in Calgary’s minor hockey community.

The new rule states that there will be no post-game contact, including handshaking, with the referee or linesmen, by players or team officials.

This does not mean there will be no handshaking, as players are still required to shake hands with each other after the game, and Hockey Calgary does not believe this rule will affect the sportsmanship in the sport.

The rule was created in order to try and protect referees from some verbal abuse they were receiving post-game, as well as to hopefully prevent post-game altercations between the two teams.

Kevin Kobelka, the executive director of Hockey Calgary, explains that Calgary’s minor hockey league loses 20-30 per cent of referees every season.

They hope the new rule will help lower that number in the upcoming season.

The organization did not make the decision to create this rule based on a single incident. Instead, they looked at the statistics and met with the Central Zone Referee Committee.

Many people are surprised by the course of action Hockey Calgary chose to take.

Ian White, a parent with two children in the sport, has expressed his disappointment with the introduction of the new rule.

“I felt that the entire organization was paying a price for the actions of a few,” White said, describing his initial reaction to the new rule.

White believes that when it comes to respect in sports, parents should be held responsible, especially in minor hockey.

He explains that he has seen more disrespect come from the parents in the stands than he has from the kids on the ice.

One minor hockey referee, Mitchell Lund, was also surprised when he learned of the rule.

“I’ve had some comments from players,” Lund said. “It’s all a part of the game.”

Lund admits that while the post game handshake isn’t necessarily needed, it was nice to show that the referees are still appreciated despite the calls they may have made during the game.

Zachary Cormier, who has been a referee for eight years, was also unsure as to why the rule was created.

“I disagreed with the rule pretty much immediately,” Cormier said.

“I didn’t understand it and still don’t.”

However, Cormier has known people who quit being a referee because of the verbal abuse they received.

Most of these kids who have quit refereeing have been either first or second year referees.

“I was one of the lucky ones,” Cormier said as to why he never thought about quitting.

“I also have tougher skin.”

The organization is worried that other forms of punishment, such as longer and harsher suspensions, would cause some people to leave the sport.

“We are volunteer-based,” Kobelka explained.

This means that if a person in a volunteer position, such as a coach, were to be suspended for a longer period of time, they may decide that running a team is not worth it.

While it isn’t an option to have every game monitored, people who break the new rule and cause problems post-game may face serious suspensions.

Hockey Calgary plans to revisit the rule at the end of the season.

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