16.5 C
Niagara Falls
Thursday, September 28, 2023
Sports: Ross’s Ramblings: With no referees, there can be no games
Ross Robinson says it’s a sad state of affairs when referees for children’s sports have to consider wearing body cameras to prevent verbal and sometimes physical abuse from parents. (FILE PHOTO)

Loyal readers know I never get mean or sarcastic with my musings. I try to look for something absurd and often poke fun. Usually with a message.

Rambling is sometimes not easy, forcing me to be observant and curious, looking for an angle to put words and thoughts around. This week, I will wander out of the box.

Stephen Leacock was Canada’s most famous humour writer. He was based in Mariposa, aka Orillia, and he never ran out of targets. He never tired of poking fun at his neighbours.

Here in our Niagara-on-the-Lake, we only have to look around in any direction with an open mind, to see how fortunate we are.

Especially as summer arrives, our town welcomes visitors from around the world. They walk our sidewalks, they pause in our parks, feeling safe and secure with their families.

There is a sense of calmness as families stroll and shop, as they marvel at our gardens and enjoy our buildings.

I do not expect them to think about the Canadian sports scene and how it continually changes. So, I will be a tad presumptuous and speak from the heart about the current state of professional and amateur sports.

This week, our national newspapers tipped me over the edge, with coverage of a major problem in kids sports.

Several weeks ago, I lamented the sorry state of NHL hockey. Our players are so talented, so fast, so highly paid. It is almost impossible to follow the games, with slow-motion video replays sometimes required to determine which player actually score.

Some three months ago, I opined that it is wrong, wrong, wrong to have star players and retirees promoting gambling.

This sends the wrong message to children and older fans, and calls into question the integrity of the games. How can the National Hockey League allow this sad state of affairs to dominate their game?

Not to mention the distracting, scrolling televised advertisements on the rink boards and on the ice surface. We can bet on who will a faceoff, or score the first goal.

OK, I won’t let an entire ramble go by without an objective comment about the Toronto Maple Leafs. Their last Stanley Cup win was in 1967, some 56 years ago.

We all know that and we had to endure the past week as team president Brendan Shanahan embarrassed the organization with his weak explanations about the current state of the Leafs.

His Shanaplan is really pathetic, with no clear path forward. Meanwhile, NHL teams from Florida and Nevada have advanced to the finals, after beating out teams from Texas and North Carolina. Are you joining me in becoming totally disinterested?

But, let’s do a deep dive into kids sports here in Niagara and Ontario and Canada. This is really a sad situation and there is a true disaster unfolding.

It has come to the point where Ontario Soccer will be experimenting with cameras strapped to the chests of some referees in an attempt to reduce verbal and physical abuse by spectators (read: parents), coaches and team officials.

Yes, dear readers, this is where we are in kids sports. Trying to change the culture of minor sports itself, so that new referees will sign up to officiate games. Without referees, there can be no games and wouldn’t that be sad?

I read that the most official assault cases are in adult recreational men’s leagues. And, parent behaviour in leagues for children under 8 and 12 years old needs to be addressed.

Simply put, the entire culture of minor sports must change.

During my lifetime, sports has been a major factor. It pains me to observe the current situation. Televised games are no more than a way to promote online gambling.

And Sheldon Keefe, the potty-mouthed coach of the Maple Leafs, always seems to be angry as he cusses out the referees several times during each game. It is not hard to read his lips, as he hysterically makes his points.

Please, sports people, wake up to the reality, the sad status of your games.

It can be done. Look no further than the great sport of volleyball.

The referees are respected and have the authority to toss out players and coaches and spectators. Everyone knows this and everyone governs themselves accordingly. It’s not that hard.

Just do it.

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