By Mark Lichtenfeld.  Originally published at

When OS covers disrespect to officials, the LPH Facebook and Twitter sites become inundated with emotional responses. And last week’s column was no exception. Still, this reader reaction is surprising to OS because for your columnist, the 2015-16 season has been one of the cleanest ever, at least in USA Hockey Rule 601 terms. Yup, I can’t remember any games, beer league included, where handshakes and positive gestures from coaches and players to us officials didn’t provide congenial endings to my respective contests. Chalk it up to veteran experience – or simply scheduling luck.

Now in talk radio, they say every caller represents one million listeners. Naturally, this doesn’t mean each LPH Facebook commentator represents even a thousand readers, though it’s statistically possible as most of my OS followers are low-tech bleacher warmers looking for some critical information during Zamboni cuts. Still, after perusing the record-setting responses on the LPH Facebook page, I’ve decided to analyze a few at random, always ensuring that names remain anonymous.


Thank you for this article. As a 20-year veteran of USA hockey, the kids are disrespectful, but it comes from the coaching. Also why is it that hockey fans feel the need and invincibility to shout whatever comes to mind?

OS: Oh, it definitely comes from the coaching. OS has hit on this very point in several earlier columns.


Good article, and good reminder for some parents. But don’t let the pay be confused with the expectation that the ref should care as much as the players and still commit to doing a good job. Some refs don’t care and that’s disrespectful, and a beer league ref especially can absorb a little ribbing now and again.

OS: Fair enough. And quite true about beer league zebras. You’ve got to have a sense of humor to succeed in the midnight ranks.


The saddest part is that when an official goes to correct the abuse situation, they get banned from the rink rather than the associations taking action against the spectator.

OS: Excellent point. Officials must have the backing of the rink and the associations. Unfortunately, I have heard of too many instances where the scheduler “sells out” the referee in order to keep his scheduling account with the team managers. This is absolutely unacceptable.


I get $40 for Squirts.

OS: That stings. Hear that out there in hockey land? You get what you pay for.


It’s worth the 2 minutes to read the article.

OS: There’s someone that gets the concept of time and value.


Good read, but that’s XXX-up they only get $45 for a JV game

OS: Tell me about it.


True. Parents sit back and remember it’s a game. They are always looking to hire refs if you think you could do better.

OS: Straight from the sensible reader department.


Awesome read!!!!!

OS: That’s why you follow LPH.


Games will always have calls for you, and calls against you. Things will be missed. Mistakes will be made. But these officials work hard so that YOU can play the game. Respect the officials.

OS: That’s from an Association you’d love to play for. And ref for, too.


House league? Who still has house leagues?

OS: I’ve always said that house league parents are the smartest consumers out there. They understand the convenience of staying local and saving cash. In the words of one hockey dad, “If my kid’s not playing AAA or gold level, no way I’m driving all over Chicagoland for the privilege of playing travel.”


Parents should be forced to watch their kids’ games in a small room with bad coffee on a 13-inch black and white TV. Then I bet those zebras won’t seem so bad now, eh?

OS: As long as it’s not the Park Districts forcing the viewing. Park Districts are governmental bodies subject to the U.S. Constitution through the 14th Amendment. I’ve watched video of myself officiating. The game looks slow. Painful. Don’t understand. I thought I was flying out there. Trust me, anything more than 15 seconds on a small black-and-white most certainly constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Park Districts, stay away from this suggestion unless you’re willing to put through a multi-million dollar tax levy to pay for civil damages.


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Officially Speaking is originally published at
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Reprinted with permission.