Hockey Manitoba short a few zebras

Mitch Drysdale escorts his brother Dallas to the penalty box
Photo Credit: Mitch Drysdale's Facebook page- Photo by Donna Kemp-Drysdale

Hockey Manitoba officials might be lacing up their skates more frequently this season.

Although the final numbers won’t be known until the week of November 16, 2009, the province’s hockey governing body, which oversees 16 leagues and all levels of minor hockey for players between five and 17 years old, is estimating a total of 1,550 registered officials this year, down 100 from last year’s number.

“We haven’t really identified it as a problem just yet,” said Hockey Manitoba’s Executive Director Peter Woods.

“The numbers could be misleading, though. We may be losing some because of the conditions officials may have to deal with during a game. But we could also look at how many games each official gets. Some that may not be getting as much may not be as active in the officiating program anymore.”

This number comes after a marketing campaign by Hockey Canada showing officials in different (and often verbally abusive) situations during a game. Some of these ads during the Shared Respect promotion were even just text.

The aim was to remind parents that these officials, who can start officiating lower levels of hockey at the age of 13, are somebody’s child, husband, or wife.

“There haven’t been any reports filed about abuse of officials yet this season,” Woods said. “But we know it’s not going to be a perfect season. I don’t think we’ve ever had one perfect season. Officiating is just a tough job.”

Brady Simpson, a certified Level 3 official with Hockey Manitoba, thinks Woods is right.

“It is tough out there at times, especially for younger officials,” he said. “I remember doing a game when I was 14 and the fans were getting really out of hand."

"Luckily a coach from one of the teams was an official as well, and he got the fans to actually leave the stands and we played the rest of the game without a crowd. I don’t know what I would have done if he wasn’t there.”

Officials get paid for each game they work depending on the level of hockey, but the costs to register for an officiating clinic, and to buy the required equipment, can also keep some people from registering.

A Level 1 clinic comes with a total cost of $83.65, which covers the clinic registration fee, the membership fee, insurance, casebook and rulebook, and the Hockey Manitoba and Hockey Canada crests. The traditional referee jersey can cost up to $100, and pants start around $70, depending on the size.

“I could see it being a legitimate reason for people not to register. You think of a young 13-year-old kid, he’s going to grow and will likely need a new ref jersey at least once or twice before he’s 18. The same thing goes for ref pants. He [or she] can get away with just wearing track pants for a while, but eventually that official will have to get real pants made for officiating.” Simpson said.

The projected decrease in registered officials could create problems if it continues, but Simpson says officials eventually get used to almost everything.

“I guess after a while nothing seems unexpected. But for people thinking about registering, I say do it. We’re really a great bunch of people to work with.”

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Mitchell Clinton

  • User since Nov 3rd 2009, 09:34