DENVER — Colorado is losing referees. From youth sports to adult leagues, the numbers for returning officials is getting smaller.
Ron Groothedde is an ice hockey official along Colorado's Front Range and has an idea why those numbers are going down. He has been in the business of officiating for close to 25 years, covering over 6,000 games.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, hockey is in his blood, and at 64, he’s still lacing up the skates and keeping up with the puck. He’s officiated little ankle benders all the way up to the professionals. He’s seen a lot of crazy stuff on the ice and in the stands but nothing like what happened to him in Vail on Nov. 6 after refereeing a game played by Bantams.
A parent sprayed Lysol in his face after the game.
"He grabs a big can, an industrial size can of Lysol, which they use to clean all the clocks and scoring equipment for different crews, and I thought, 'Oh my God, he's going to throw it at me. And I went to put my hands up but instead of throwing it at me he fogged me right in the face," Groothedde said.
The police got involved and a report was filed. Police said 43-year-old Aliaksei Khatsianevich was arrested for harassment. He was given a summons and released at the scene.
Groothedde believes very strongly there is simply a lack of respect -- a lack of respect shown to the referees from parents and coaches which eventually gets passed on to the players.
"I would use it as a teaching moment. I wouldn't even ask him what went through his head. I would say, 'You know what? It's time for you to grow up. It's time for you to realize that this is not about you. You should be cheering for your kids,'" Groothedde said.
Most of the games go off just fine. Listen to Ron talk about being a referee in Colorado.
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