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I am being bombarded this year with emails from several different summer leagues, and now fall leagues about not enough officials; we need people to “step up and work”, “help the kids out”, “work your fair share of games”, etc. etc. That apparently wasn’t working so now they have now turned to shaming us to try and get people to work “Stop collecting unemployment and get out and skate.” Many have stopped including what they are paying in the emails hoping to get people to commit before disclosing it, because some are embarrassingly low.
First off, as an official I have only once ever been an employee – and that is when I worked for the Central Hockey League and they also provided housing, insurance, travel stipends, and some other things. Youth, High School, Junior, and College (and even some Pro leagues) we are all independent contractors. So we cannot collect unemployment on officiating income, in fact you usually have to claim officiating income even if they get laid off from their regular job. So nobody is sitting at home collecting unemployment checks based off prior year’s officiating income.
Secondly. How about you pay me more than $40/game? This is how capitalism works. Enough people have decided that it is no longer worth doing that job for the amount of money you are willing to pay. People pi$$ and moan about officials constantly, and then throw a huge fit anytime there is an increase in officials game fees or anything like that. So do you actually want officials? Or do you just want to get high school/college kids who need to make a few bucks working the games? Are you willing to deal with the fallout from the choice? There is a AAA League right now trying to get officials to work games as a single official for 1:15 Bantam games for $45. Good luck with that, let me know how it turns out. There are 3 high schools I work games for in the winter that provide a gatorade and snickers bar for each official every game. That little gesture costs them what, $5 out of pocket? but goes such a long way! @SkiUMahLaw ‘s HS being one of them. (That school also happens to pay on the spot, and not make me fill out a Pay Voucher, W2, District Non-Employee form at each game, and then send 2 more emails in order to get paid, only to get the wrong amount and have to email again).
Third. 90%+ of Spring/Summer/Fall hockey is un-sanctioned, or pseudo-sanctioned at best. There is zero repercussions or discipline when it comes to player behavior and most of them have figured that out. So many players act out because they know they can get away with it and only face minimal consequences at worst. When I used to officiate that hockey, that was the only time I ever had to call a butt-end, and had way more spearing penalties than ever in winter, sanctioned hockey. Dealing with that nonsense on a regular basis is not fun for anyone. NO thanks. Hard pass.
Fourth. Many officials like an offseason too. When I worked spring/summer/fall hockey I was already burned out and angry before the regular season started. Plus I want to play golf, go up north, etc. during the summer. I don’t want to be stuck in an arena all summer, working games for $30 a pop. Enough guys put in their time by working for free (or donating game fees) during “Stick it to Cancer” tournaments, working tryout scrimmages for their local association for $10 or even free sometimes. You aren’t going to get the same treatment as a AAA Hockey league charging parents through the nose.
As for the argument – “$45 for a 1:15 game? That’s $36/Hr That’s more than I make at my job!!” By all means; go ahead and referee fulltime and let me know how you make out in the end. Who here heard the one about all the officials who work games because “the money is so good”? Yeah, nobody. Of course almost nobody would do it if we weren’t paid, and there are always a few doing it because they need the money, but nobody is doing it because it pays so well.
So next time your local referee association approaches the district and are asking for a $1 or $2 per game increase per official. Please think twice before getting in a tizzy and telling them to pound sand. And shaming people because you aren’t willing to increase from what you paid officials in 2010 to work games is really the wrong way to go about it.
I will get off my soap box now.
We really do appreciate the work you do (and not just give lip service on social media!).
Not that you are part of this problem, but officials association leadership can help the issue– they need to modernize and recruit differently than they have in the past, and give meaningful opportunities to young officials. I’ve worked with some promising young officials who are frustrated at their inability to get into meaningful games– if only to give them good tests and a taste of the big time.
But the rest of your post is spot on. We can do better.