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A Message from the Board of Directors

By Webmaster, 09/02/19, 10:45AM EDT


Scott Sargent, President Lehigh Valley Phantoms Youth

P.O. Box 1174 Bethlehem, PA

Dear Members,

I am writing to inform you that this season we will be placing special emphasis on enforcing Article XIII of our bylaws, specifically the section referring to referee abuse. Any parent, player, or coach observed showing disrespect to officials, whether on-ice or off-ice (time & scorekeepers), will be subject to club discipline, including possible loss of participation privileges. We believe that aggressive verbal abuse is a major contributor to the looming crisis of referee shortages. USA Hockey has reported a significant downturn in the number of registered referees. In fact, although the number of registered players has increased 20% from the 2009/10 season the number of referees has decreased by over 11%. This is alarming if not for the simple fact that we can’t play the game if there isn’t anyone to drop the puck. Just as concerning, we worry that our players are missing the opportunity to learn the great life lessons normally afforded by playing this great game. When role models fail to practice self-control, it’s unreasonable to expect our kids won’t emulate this behavior. Worse, we (youth hockey community) may be guilty of creating a “victim” culture where responsibility is rarely accepted. If we fail to teach our kids to accept responsibility for their actions and to respect authority figures, we have missed the great learning opportunity youth sports provides. In no way do we believe our club is major offender, rather this behavior is part of the culture in all of youth hockey, quite possibly all of youth sports. We don’t deny it can be difficult to hold back when we perceive our children have been slighted, but the stakes are too high. We can’t change the culture of the entire youth hockey world, but we can and will take the proper steps necessary to improve the learning and playing environment for our kids. Our Hockey Operations staff including TK Long, John Musella, Keith Krem, and Chad Rockovits, have already had discussions with our coaches about using restraint when questioning on-ice calls, and to think about how players react to their interactions with officials. The next step is for all of us as parents and players to understand that aggressively questioning calls, verbally abusing referees, and other behaviors detrimental to the club and/or team can and will lead to losing participation privileges. In the end, our teams will be more competitive if players can focus on playing hockey, rather than worrying about how the game is called. I welcome any questions or comments you may have regarding personal behavior, and our efforts to improve the culture of youth hockey.


Scott Sargent, President Lehigh Valley Phantoms Youth