Hockey referees given cameras to record verbal abuse
Charlotte County Minor Hockey Association says it's the first league in Canada to equip officials with cameras
The Charlotte County Minor Hockey Association says it is the first league in Canada to introduce body cameras for referees, in an attempt to stop parents and coaches from taking aggression out on the officials.
Rick Jackson, the president of the Charlotte County Minor Hockey Association, said the number of officials in the minor hockey league has been falling in recent years.
“We want to get the numbers back up. So we want our referees to know that we're doing everything we can help zero tolerance,” he said.
“We don't want players or parents or coaches abusing them.”
The league’s season wrapped up last weekend. But the hockey league plans to continue using cameras next year and is encouraging other hockey associations across Canada to also adopt the cameras.
The GoPro cameras are attached to the referees' helmet or chest and can monitor any abuse directed towards referees.
Alexzandrya Caldwell, a referee in the league, said the cameras have helped.
“I think it kept it a little bit cleaner cause they all knew they were on tape,” Caldwell said.
“And a coach would call over to you and talk about it instead of yelling at you.”
Some parents say they have watched referees being yelled at during local hockey games.
“When there's an adult referee you tend to see it a little bit more because you feel maybe they should be a little bit more on the ball with the calls,” said Jennifer Wright.
Aaron Craig said the verbal abuse toward officials can happen during close games.
“It's easy to happen, people just have to realize that's not right,” Craig said.