Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The hockey referee

My dad in the 1940's was a hockey referee for intermediate hockey throughout the Province of Saskatchewan, one of the cradles of hockey excellence. He was busy with this job every winter through this period and, though the war was on, there were still first class hockey players of an older and largely, farm generation, that were exempted for various reasons. You can't farm in the winter in Saskatchewan but you can skate, curl, play hockey, listen to the wartime radio news and watch the Movietone News. We lived for sport in the winter. My dad knew the hockey rule book backwards. We lived in Kindersley which was a hotbed for sports. My dad was one of the smoothest skaters I ever saw, and you could see it when he went back and forth following the play. He was totally impartial and on the face of that, his counterparts developed the same degree of resistance to being a "homer". He played hockey as a young man but I don't think he was particularly good, though he would never admit it. Having said all this,if you watch hockey on TV these days, the referees are usually invisible unless they are enjoined in some sort of dispute. Watching the referees when the game is particularly boring; if you focus and make the players invisible, is an interesting gestalt. There is a parallel activity going on, with a novel content, that no one short of the supervisor of referees probably ever sees. The whole is greater than the sum of it's parts. This applies to most stuff! Peripheral vision! Try it! I don't recommend it as a steady diet, but it is an eye-opener. In every job there is an undergirding that performs a unsung and rarely noticed role!

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