From: Philip St. George, thenorthbaybay.ca staff
NORTH BAY — Those looking to yell and scream at area referees may want to hold it in.
The Referee Association of Ontario (RAO) has announced a pilot program which would see local referees outfitted with tasers.
“We’ve been hearing disturbing reports from the [North Bay] area,” says RAO lead Earnest Church. “A lot of minor abuses, but mixed in are cases where parents have thrown things at, verbally threatened, or physically assaulted referees.”
“Most area referees are volunteers. They are there because they want to see our children succeed. They are there because they love the game.” “And now they will be able to stay there because we’re outfitting them with X26P Tasers.”
Local Hockey Success
As part of the pilot program, seven area referees were given “non-lethal conducted electrical weapons” on January 2nd, 2019.
“Five of the seven were hockey referees,” says Church. “All five have reported that the tasers are helping.”
The five referees officiated games at the Peewee, Bantam, Midget, and Atom levels.
“It’s like night and day,” says senior referee Mike Adams. “I’ve been reffing here in North Bay for almost 30 years, and I’ve heard and seen it all. These past two months, though? Not much more than a peep.”
“Once I had to come off the ice and taser Mrs. Wallis for threatening a rival goalie, everyone else fell in line.”
“There’s still troublemakers, for sure. But it’s been a great experience. It’s helping. I honestly haven’t felt this good about hockey in years.”
“Just Like Batman”
“Yeah, it’s pretty cool,” says junior ref Fred Reynoll. “Aside from the taser, they also give us this neat black belt to keep it in. Some of the kids call it a ‘utility belt,’ just like Batman has.”
“I’ve only had to use the taser twice. Last week was the worst. There was a Bantam player slew footing everyone who came back to the ice after his ejection. I had to zap him.”
“When I tased him, I yelled ‘I’M BATMAN!'”
“The kids thought it was pretty cool. Most of us laughed.”
All Area Refs
Early success means that almost all area referees might soon be carrying around tasers.
“The Referee Association of Ontario is looking into costs now,” says Earnest Church. “It may be a matter of the association covering 50 or 60 percent of the cost of a taser with the volunteer ref covering the rest.”
“We suspect that most of the referees working around North Bay will opt in. There’s been great interest in the program.”
“Who wouldn’t want to step onto the ice, field, or court with a whistle in one hand and a fully-charged X26P Taser in the other?”
Church emphasises that the days of yelling at referees is over.
“Don’t yell at your local refs. Don’t throw things. Once this program is in place, they will have no problem coming off the ice to find you in the stands. They know these arenas; they know the seating. They will find you, and they will tase you.”
The X26P Taser can deliver 50 000 volts for a maximum of 10 seconds at a range of 13 feet.
“It will be the longest 10 second penalty you’ll ever serve.”