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Officially Speaking: The human element

07/08/2019, 10:45am CDT
By Mark Lichtenfeld

The matter of decency is severely lacking in amateur hockey

As the Stanley Cup Playoffs are finally concluded, it’s really been a banner year for officiating controversies in big-time sports.

You know, the pass interference call in the NFC Championship, the disputed call against Auburn in the NCAA Final Four and the major cross-check against Las Vegas in the first round of the NHL Playoffs.

It’s called the human element, and it’s part of sports. And as most statisticians will tell you, these calls normally even out over the course of a season. 

Still, the real scene is the reaction from fans, players and officials. That’s how to judge the measure of civility in sports, or character in an individual. And as most readers of Let’s Play Hockey are all too aware, the matter of decency is severely lacking in “amateur hockey.”

So for the benefit of you coaches, managers, players and parents, take a look at one of the classiest responses from a dispute that has ever been fit to print. And most surprisingly, it comes from a basketball player who had just lost a once-in-a-lifetime shot at a national title.

The player was from Auburn, and he was flagged for a disputed 3-point foul with less than one second left in a two-point game – which means the fouled player was given three shots at the line. Seriously, you know what would happen if a men’s league ref called a penalty shot with one second remaining in a tied lumberjack league semifinal?

That’s right, the official would be spending the next season working the scorer’s clock.

Anyway, the fouled Virginia player made all of his three free throws, and his team went on to win the game by one point.

Here’s what the player flagged for the foul said afterwards: “I didn’t think I fouled him, but the refs thought otherwise. I trust their decision ... they’re going to do the best job they can.”

Pretty cool huh? But it gets better: “The referees don’t try to tell me how to put a basketball in the hole, so I’m not going to tell them how to make the right or wrong call.”

Simply incredible. OS had to review the quote twice to ensure it wasn’t a misprint.

Compare that to the whining of Las Vegas players and fans about the major penalty call in game seven. No matter that the Knights were up 3 -1 in the series. And who gives up four shorthanded goals in five minutes?

Meanwhile, the amateur hockey community hasn’t learned a thing. And still, they won’t pay up to install goal cameras, video replay booths or four zebras for a C league final.

Anyway, there it is. The Auburn guy. A perfect read for the concluding OS column of the 2018-19 season. 

And it will serve you well to remember these words next year all you players, beer league goons and overpaid managers.


Questions and comments can be sent to, via Twitter @OSpeaking or through the Let’s Play Hockey Facebook page.

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Tag(s): State Of Hockey  News  Officially Speaking