Angry parents are not a new phenomenon at kids’ sporting events, but some parents of youth hockey players are driving referees away from the sport.
Instances of broken safety glass, threats of violence and even physical fights are among the outrageous examples of parents’ bad behavior.
A group of youth referees in Massachusetts who spoke to Inside Edition say they’ve had enough of the abuse.
“I had a player come up to me and tell me he was going to slash me across the throat with his stick,” referee Dominick Cappadona said.
Chris Henry, another ref, described how he once had to barricade himself in a locker room to hide from parents.
“I got a fold-up chair, sat down, back up against the door. Before you know it, door starts rattling, handle starts going, sticks are being banged under the door, and I’m just sitting there holding it closed until the cops come,” Henry said.
The abuse is driving refs out of youth hockey. Nine-hundred refs in Massachusetts alone have quit just this season.
To deal with the crisis, youth hockey organizations are cracking down.
“We’ve had coaches get suspended for a year, two years and some banned as a result of their conduct,” Bob Joyce, president of Massachusetts Hockey, told Inside Edition.
Referee Katie Gauy says incidents like this threaten the future of the sport.
“Unfortunately there might be a time where we’re not going to allow parents in the arenas to cheer on their kids,” Guay said.
Massachusetts Youth Hockey has created an online reporting system to allow people to register incidents of bad behavior by parents or spectators.