WEYMOUTH, MASS. (WHDH) - Massachusetts Hockey is placing the blame on parents and coaches for abusive behavior that they say is sidelining hundreds of referees.
Many youth hockey referees say they experience a high level of verbal and even physical abuse on the job from parents and coaches alike.
“This is not acceptable and you’re having a detrimental impact on the game, not just for your own kids but across the state when officials aren’t coming back,” said Mass. Hockey President Bob Joyce.
The league says they are down about 900 officials this season which is leading to a slew of rescheduled or even canceled games. The referees they have been able to keep say they are feeling burnt out.
Joyce says they have seen several troubling incidents just this season alone including a teenaged referee quitting midgame after getting harassed by a group of parents.
Last season, a video of a coach attacking a referee went viral and prompted league officials to adopt a stronger “zero tolerance” policy against the abuse.
“Let our officials know we have their backs,” Joyce said. “They’re an essential part of the game. Without officials, you can’t play games.”
Dominick Cappadona who works as a referee says he understands why his colleagues are calling it quits. Just two weekends ago, he says he had to call off the game and call the police because he was threatened by parents and players.
“We are suffering from the lack of respect we get from players and parents and coaches as a whole,” he said. “You need to remember that your kid is here for fun your kid is here to have a good time and to be with his friends.”
Mass. Hockey says that if anyone is found to be threatening league officials, they will face a suspension or ban from future games.
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