Theoretical analysis of referee bias in youth hockey

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Master's Theses

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Pappas, Winston Christopher
Scholarship & Creative Works @ Digital UNC; University of Northern Colorado
Youth hockey; Sporting official bias; Youth hockey; Sporting official bias
thesis / dissertation description
This research addressed the issue of youth hockey referee bias demonstrated throughout 286 CCYHL Squirt A and C league games and the 2009-2010 CDYHL Squirt B league season games. Structural functionalism, cognitive dissonance, and exchange theory were used to explain a probable rationale for biased referee behavior. A T-test revealed a mean of .012, suggesting penalty calls were equalized during squirt level hockey games (age 9 through 10). A logistic regression analysis was incorporated to uncover predictable patterns of penalty calls made by referees based on penalty differential, score difference, and home team lead. Findings indicate that teams with the least amount of penalties had a 69.26 percent chance of incurring the next penalty disadvantage. Score differential seemed to have no effect on penalty patterns except in a situation of home team lead where the probability of receiving the next penalty increased to 57.39 percent. Findings of this research seemed to dismiss any away-team bias. In fact, this research showed support for the opposite; home teams actually obtained more penalty calls than away-teams. Considering penalties were equalized and a predictable penalty calling pattern was established, it seemed fitting that youth hockey referees’ officiating decisions were biased. The implications of this research clearly identifies that players and coaches could modify their strategies and play to improve their team’s chances of winning a hockey game according to the equalization penalty results. Equalization of penalties is also of great concern for referees. Intervention in the training process of referees is warranted to remove bias in officiating.