It might look like poor sportsmanship, but Calgary hockey players who don’t shake hands with their referee are just following the rules.
Hockey Calgary has banned post-game handshakes between teams and officials for the 2016-17 season.
"While the post-game handshake between players and officials was a ‘Nice to do’ thing, it was not a necessary process, as a sign of respect had been paid prior to the game," wrote Kevin Kobelka, executive director of Hockey Calgary, in a memo dated September 15.
The memo notes that "post-game contact" between referees, linesmen, players and coaches often leads to verbal altercations, player aggression and suspensions for coaches and players.
The organization said every season between 30 and 40 per cent of referees quit, with many citing verbal abuse, CTV News reported.
The new move has concerned many fans of the game.
"We're passing on an opportunity for young athletes to have appropriate behaviours modelled for them by those they respect the most. We're abdicating responsibility," Karen Polard told CBC News.
"The goal of this new directive is to increase respect for referees. You do that by ensuring that everyone shakes the ref's hands, and you ban abusive players/coaches. It's that simple," wrote one commenter on a Facebook post about the announcement.
Opposing teams will still shake hands after games, the memo notes, but those lineups will be monitored for any incidents between players.
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