A statement from the organization said they believe the cause of the shortage is the abuse, verbal and sometimes physical, that referees get from parents and coaches is driving youth hockey referees to quit.
Massachusetts Hockey said they've lost 900 referees from pre-covid seasons to now, with abuse being the most commonly cited reason for quitting.
Massachusetts Hockey described several incidents, including a young female referee who received so much harassment from parents that she quit in the middle of a set of games. They said one referee needed a police escort home from refereeing a U8 game—a game featuring players ages eight and under.
WBZ's Drew Moholland spoke with a referee from Wilmington who agrees with the statement from Massachusetts Hockey.
"It was the best job in the world an hour ago, [and then] you're out there thinking why am I even doing this the next game," he said. "Usually the kids on the ice are the least of your worries it's the parents and coaches who are giving you the biggest problem."
Massachusetts Hockey reminded people in their statement that referees for youth hockey games are just everyday people looking to help make games possible for kids.
"It would appear that many people, for whatever reason, have lost this understanding and somehow believe that our officials need to be at the same level as what they see on TV at the college or NHL level," the statement reads.
WBZ's Drew Moholland (@DrewWBZ) reports.