Nov 3, 2016

Everyone Wants To Be A Referee

It was a nice birthday gift from Cathy; dinner and two tickets to a Minnesota Wild game. After all these years she still knows how to give a great birthday present. And, apparently, she assumed that I would take her to the game; which of course I did.

My pre-game ritual for hockey games (actually any sporting event) is to arrive early for two reasons. The first is to get the best parking; which for Wild Games is in a secret spot that you will only know if you have an extra ticket and invite me to go with you; hint, hint, hint…

The second reason that I like to arrive early is so that I can get the best seat; which never makes sense to anyone else because the tickets are usually assigned seating! Perhaps it is a desire to once again connect somehow with one of my passions as a rink rat and catch a fresh whiff of the ice.  

We arrived early at Tommy Reid’s in St. Paul (aka: “Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub”) knowing that the place gets crowded on game night as hockey players and fans of all background, love to eat there prior to and after hockey games.

We ate our meal and then made the long (or short) walk to the Excel Energy Center (or the “X”) from my secret parking spot and arrived about one hour before they dropped the biscuit at center ice. 

At the X we allowed the staff to scan our tickets, search our pockets, and then put the additional time that we had to good use and walked off our meal by taking laps around the arena.

Finally, we made our way to our seats (she did a great job; they were really good) and made instant life-long-best-friends with all of our new neighbors for the game and settled in for what would be a slaughter of the opposing team as the Minnesota Wild easily defeated the LA Kings by a score of six to three. 

Or I should say “life-long-best-friends” with almost every new neighbor…

Behind us sat “him”; I know you know who he is because every sports fan has met “him”, because he is at every game no matter what the sport is! He is the expert to the game.

And usually, when he is at hockey games, he believes that he has been hand selected by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to be the Gary’s personal eyes in the stands to shout out when the officials get the calls all wrong.

In fact, during the game he is oftentimes yelling at the linesmen instead of the ref, believing in his drunken state of mind, that linesmen call penalties when normally, penalty calls are made by the referees.

FYI: Linesmen are usually left to handle icing and offside violations. Yes, under certain circumstances and the more egregious violations, linesmen can call penalties. But, it’s really the referees’ job to handle nearly all of the calls made.

He is the same guy who shaves his lip sweater in November! (Lip Sweater (noun): mustache, typically grown out during the month of November for the “Movember” cause to support male health issues.)

He is the same guy who thinks that a “Hat Trick” always means that a player has scored three goals in a single game. Normally this is true, that is, unless you’re talking about a “Gordie Howe Hat Trick”! (When a player scores a goal, records an assist, and gets into a fight in a single game.)

And, yes, he was at the X sitting two rows behind us, shouting the whole game at the officials, wondering if they had ever read or knew what the rule book was. 

“Come on Chip! Are you blind!” he kept shouting, and then shouted out how the official had blown the call. I love this guy’s ability to open his mouth and speak of things beyond his understanding and not admit that he is wrong even after the replay is shown on the screen.

Eventually I turned around to put a face on this man of vast knowledge and yes, he was over-weight and probably never stepped foot on the ice; nor actually ever refereed a NHL game! 

As I thought about this man, I thought about how often I (and probably even you) want to be a referee. No, I don’t mean ref a hockey game: been there, done it, and grateful that I never chose it as a career!

What I am talking about is our desire to be in control, to call the shots, to decide right and wrong, and to explain everything. I’m right, am I not?

In the Bible in the book of Job we read about a man who lost it all and got it all back again. In the process he discovered that his friends, although they meant well, really weren’t qualified to be “referees” in Job’s situation. They were sure that God had missed some penalties that should have been called. 

But they only thought they knew what was going on. They had no replay monitors to watch. They had no rule book to follow. They were like the man in the stand opening their mouths with no qualification to do so.

Even when Job tried to be his own referee, he was shown to be wrong. He had no idea that everything that was happening to him was allowed by the Lord to show how great Job and the Lord are.

In the end, prior to getting everything back twice what he had before, Job says to God; Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”

In fact Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning.

My point? We are not called to be referees in this world. Just because we think we are so sure what is happening in our world and how the game should be called, we are not God; nor will we ever be.

He alone is qualified to make the calls as He sees them. It is His world, not ours; we belong to Him.

Our response is simply to trust Him, sit back, and enjoy the game.


“Keep your stick on the ice; I’m pulling for you!” -Red Green

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