By Mark Lichtenfeld.  Originally published at

Officially SpeakingAs regular OS readers know, most of this column’s inquiries are sent by fellow Level 3 veterans, pleading with me to expose what they consider to be a lack of respect toward seasoned refs emanating from local officiating associations.

Now, being a 25-year veteran myself, I empathize with these guys. I have felt their pain. Not any more, mind you, since I relocated and work predominately for another association which treats veterans like universities treat professors emeritus.

With respect.

But I digress.

Let us commence today’s column by scrutinizing the USA Hockey Rulebook. Specifically, page xvii of the Preface, commonly known as the Code of Conduct.

On-Ice Official’s Code of Conduct: Act in a professional and businesslike manner at all times and take your role seriously. … Remember that officials are teachers. Set a good example. …

With this background as reference, here is a letter I received last week which speaks volumes to the perceived lack of respect toward both veteran officials and educated Americans possessing a 10th-grade proficiency of proper English sentence structure. (Redactions have been made to protect the both the author and the local association from embarrassment).


Hello XXXX District Official:

If you have completed registration for this year, you may disregard this message.

As of today roughly 55% of those officials in the XXXX District who have registered to officiate this year have successfully completed their registration. If you are getting this message it is because USAH registration records indicate that you have not completed the online module (education) requirements as a part of the overall certification process.

You must log in using the following link:

You will need your USAH Officiating ID number. Please note that this is not your playing/coaching confirmation number. The USAH Officiating program has it’s own identification system and your number stays the same year after year. On the home page there is a red banner across the top with the words HOME and COURSES. Click on “COURSES” and you will be on the page with the education topics listed.

Each topic MUST show the word COMPLETE for the module section to be finished. Each topic is also a link that takes your to a sub topic page with sub topics listed.

At the top of each sub topic page, it indicates how many of the sub-topics must be completed.

Remember that returning officials MUST have registration completed prior to November 30.

Please contact your local Registrar if you have any questions regarding your completion of registration, and best of luck!


OK, notwithstanding the grammatical errors pertaining to possessives and pronouns, the entire letter is an exercise in frustration. Here’s what a veteran ref wrote to OS in a controlled rant:

“I had to go double-check based on how this is phrased. Disregard if you are complete but you are receiving this because you are incomplete? And in 11 more days XXXX District will lose 45% of it’s (its) officials? What a professional organization.”

OS agrees with this vet. And the worst part is that guys like him and hundreds of others suddenly had to expend more precious time e-mailing and calling USA Hockey or the local affiliate to verify registration status, even though they had completed all prerequisites. The incomprehensible letter forced them to review status just to be sure there were no hidden computer or database errors.

Does that sound like a way to run a local affiliate?

Does that comport with the USA Hockey Preface? Teaching by example? Professionalism?

Look, us veteran Level 3s simply ask to be treated with respect. That means not relegating us to the status of common citizens suddenly caught in the tangled web of bureaucratic red tape. I mean, 55 percent of the XXXX District refs are supposedly incomplete? Come on. I know more than 50% of the District refs in this letter registered and completed all their requirements by October. The guy that sent me this letter was complete before the NFL’s opening week. But now he’s got to waste time verifying status because of this unintelligible letter.

And try getting a response when you write in to your local referee-in-chief. This column is still waiting for a return e-mail from my inquiry to a local referee-in-chief regarding those eight-hour seminars.

Sorry XXXX District guys. You timely complete all your certification requirements, attend an all-day seminar when USA Hockey only requires three hours and no ice for veterans, and then right before the Nov. 30 deadline, you are suddenly advised that you may not be registered.

No way to treat veteran Level 3s.

Or any person in general.


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Officially Speaking is originally published at
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Reprinted with permission.