A referee in any sport is the one person in the unique position to be hated by each team with equal furiousness.
The only way a ref ever does a good job if is you don’t notice them.
That rarely happens.
However, like two opponents almost always do, individuals have usually been able to put aside their differences and shake hands as an acknowledgement of success not being possible without one or the other.
But last week, Hockey Calgary decided, in the face rampant abuse of officials, they would ban handshakes between refs, the players and the coaches following games.
The Hockey Alberta Referee Council found that young referees were quitting at a rate of about 35 per cent and they felt like they needed to do something.
It’s sad that the state of sportsmanship has to come to this. In the face of trying to teach kids how to be better people, or at the very least a little respect, organizations are forced to go to the ultimate extreme.
The complete ban sends the wrong message, as the inability to acknowledge a job well done can cripple a young official the same way those harsh words at the end of a game would.
Any faith in the goodwill of human beings to separate their emotions from three periods of hockey is completely ripped away with this decision. Hockey is and always will be a game, one that is as much about teaching kids integral moral values as the importance of hard work, dedication, winning and losing.
In a world where it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to find good examples and leaders, this ban misses on an important opportunity to provide a lesson in humility and good grace in defeat or victory.