The study will be done by Kim Dorsch and Harold Riemer of the University of Regina’s Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies, along with David Paskevich of the University of Calgary and Robert Schinke from Laurentian University. It is a joint initiative with Sport Canada, funded by a $130,000 grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
“Sport Canada has been looking at sports at the grassroots level for ways to encourage more people to become active,” Dorsch explains. “In the observed data, Hockey Canada has found that approximately one-third of registered officials discontinue their involvement in any given year. If the officials are having difficulty coping with abusive fans, players or coaches, our objective is to help them deal with it effectively, so they can continue to participate.”
During the first year of the study Dorsch and her colleagues plan to survey as many as 10,000 officials from across Canada, from Level One up to the elite Level Six. Working closely with Hockey Canada, Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) and the Saskatchewan Hockey Association, the researchers will ask officials what they perceive as stressors, assess their hardiness and coping styles, and ask them to state how satisfied they are with their performance, using various measures.
“Once we have an understanding of the personal characteristics of officials, we can begin to develop workshops and other tools to help officials cope while they are on the ice and manage their stressors so they can do their job effectively,” Dorsch says. “It's an area of the game that's wide open for research, which is surprising, because you can't play the game without officials.”
Doug Lawrence, Saskatchewan Hockey Association (SHA) south supervision co-ordinator of the referees’ division, is the liaison between SHA and the research team. Lawrence says hockey officials and players across Canada will benefit from the study.
“Hockey officials are an important part of the game and need the support that will come from the information this research will provide. We look forward to participating in the study for the betterment of everyone involved in hockey, from officials to players, coaches and fans.”
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