My 12-year-old great grandson loves hockey and plays in the B league of the peewee division at the Soo Peewee Hockey Association.
For the past little while I have been promoting the idea that when he turns 14 he enrol in classes to become a referee.
I thought becoming a referee would provide him with some spending money and, just as important, would be a great character builder.
My idea took a pretty good hit last weekend; my grandson did as well.
It left him with a not-so-good feeling about referees.
Playing at the John Rhodes Arena in the B division final of a tournament last weekend, he was involved in a collision with a player from another team as well as one from his own.
The player from the other team was down on the ice for some time. My grandson was able to leave the ice, although he ended up in emergency at Sault Area Hospital later that day for suspected kidney damage.
As a result of the collision, he received a five-minute penalty and a game misconduct for intent to injure and ultimately a two-game suspension.
He was, naturally, very upset at what had gone down.
The pain in his kidney is no longer constant but comes and goes.
The pain about the call by the referee lingers.
I have suggested to him that he let it go, that he move on, taking it as a life lesson. Mistakes are made all along life’s trail and referees are no exception when it comes to making them. Many fans of the Soo Greyhounds will tell you we see it all the time at Greyhound games.
But on our part it is seeing it from the stands, not from the ice where the action is happening at break-neck speed.
It is all a matter of opinion and how the referee sees it is the opinion that counts.
Who is right in the instance at hand?
From the stands I saw the collision and was surprised that there was any penalty called at all, let alone one as serious as intent to injure, probably the harshest penalty any player at any level can receive. In my years of coaching and watching minor hockey, this was the first time I had seen it called.
However, the referee obviously saw it differently and, as misguided as I think his call was, I have to support it.
Referees don’t have an easy job. They are going to be damned from one side or the other, as well as by the parents and grandparents in the stands when it comes to minor hockey, on pretty well every call.
But I always have to ask myself this: Where would we be without them?
With no hockey, that’s where.
I have suggested to my grandson, who doesn’t appear to have a mean bone in his body but will stand up for himself, that he not change the free-wheeling style that seemed to come out of nowhere, this year elevating his game remarkably. I believe the incident should be considered a one-off and put behind him.
And I am still promoting the idea of becoming a referee to him. I believe that refereeing has a lot to offer him and he, with his newfound understanding of the game, has a lot to offer it.
If you ask anyone in this country what the main language is, you would probably get the answer that it is English.
I am not so sure that I would give that answer any more.
I have been watching several British series on TV, The Bodyguard, Collateral and Line of Duty.
I think the limited series are quite good but I find I only understand about 70% of the spoken words.
So taking that into account, I am now of the mind that we, instead of speaking English, are really speaking Canadian.
And it leaves me wondering from the British viewpoint, would they have as much trouble understanding me as I have understanding them?
When I was in the air force in Winnipeg, we had many navigation trainees from England. Somehow I didn’t have much trouble understanding them, one and all.
But I do recall when I was copy chief on the desk at The Edmonton Journal, an English bloke saying to me one day as we were discussing the play of a story, “you don’t understand a damn word I’m saying, do you?”
I had to confess that he was right.
So for a while, until I began to get a handle on the dialect, he spoke to me as slowly and as plainly as he could.
People on the desk knew what was happening so they paid no attention, but I certainly got some strange looks when some of the reporters walked by and heard how I was being addressed.
Whatever, it worked for us.