NOHA to implement on-ice anti-harrassment policy

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NORTH BAY—In an effort to provide support for new and young officials, the Northern Ontario Hockey Association (NOHA) announced last week that it will implement a green armband policy for on-ice officials under the age of 18. The initiative is aimed at reducing harassment and abuse of officials by spectators and team officials.
“Absolutely, it will include young officials on Manitoulin Island,” said Gayle Payette, a member of the Ontario Hockey Federation board of directors. “That would be great; we all want to entice and increase the number of officials there are and to keep harassment of officials at a minimum.”
“Effective for the 2022-2023 season, all on-ice officials under the age of 18 will wear a green arm band, which will identify that they are a minor. Roughly 35 percent of registered on-ice officials in the NOHA are under the age of 18 and are extremely important to the present and the future of the officiating program in Northern Ontario,” the NOHA states.
“The policy will also further support officials with increased discipline for spectators and team officials who abuse or harass officials wearing green armbands. It is important that these individuals know that some of our officials are minors under the law and be reminded that this behaviour is not acceptable,” continued the NOHA.
“Team officials who abuse or harass officials who are wearing a green armband will face increased supplemental discipline compared to team officials who abuse or harass officials who are not wearing a green armband. The NOHA does not condone any abuse or harassment of officials,” the NOHA statement reads.
Infractions impacted include: game misconduct-unsportsmanlike conduct, game misconduct-disrespectful, abusive, and harassing behaviour, gross misconduct-travesty of the game, gross misconduct-discrimination, match penalty-attempted strike, match penalty-deliberate, touch, hold, push, and match penalty-deliberate strike, trip, body check.
“Any game misconduct or gross misconduct penalty involving a green armband official or at the U9 and U11 age category will be doubled from the OHF minimum suspension list,” the NOHA states. “For any match penalty identified above, the hearing panel will take into consideration that a minor official was involved in the incident when determining sanction(s).”
“The green armband initiative was initially implemented in Montreal in 2020 and subsequently applied across Hockey Eastern Ontario (Ottawa and surrounding areas) last season and is being implemented across the NOHA based on feedback received earlier in the spring from our membership. The police will also assist in supporting the new officials’ initiative, where the NOHA will provide free registration and free equipment to first time officials this season,” says the NOHA statement.
“The NOHA understands that harassment and abuse of officials is never acceptable. We also recognize the need to further support our young officials who are in a position where they are being yelled at by adults, and we believe that the green armband initiative will assist with this,” said NOHA president Sue Shepherdson in a release.
In the coming weeks the NOHA will distribute posters that can be displayed in arenas and will host presentations for minor hockey associations and team officials to better understand the policy.
“We know that many officials leave the game due to abuse and harassment from team officials and spectators,” the NOHA statement reads. “We also know that the number of officials in the NOHA has decreased significantly since the 2019-2020 season. To that end, this is one more step that we are taking to help reduce this negative behaviour toward officials.”