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I'm retiring.

I think I was coming to that decision before Friday night. Going to the rink has been a chore, even with as rarely as I've been doing it, because I've only been doing men's league. The sad thing is, I've been doing men's league, which means I'm essentially stealing $50 a game to do bad hockey, and going at an agreeable time at a rink 20 minutes away from me. I haven't been doing 7AM Mite games in Canterbury yet, because my card hasn't come in (and no one seems to give a shit). But doing men's league is not fun, because the hockey sucks, and the players are retarded, screaming and ranting and raving over every slight, real or perceived, and it's like babysitting grown men.

I was punched by a player last year. I've had pucks shot at me. And I really have little willpower to put myself through that just to move up and do... the bush leagues of the professional ranks. I see what Terrell goes through in the EPHL, and I don't want it (as a proof of that, here's a name from the past for Liz: Billy Tibbetts plays for the team in Danbury. For those that don't know what that name means... yikes. He's a lunatic, and still shows it, or did when he played for Brooklyn.). I remember what I went through in the MLRH and PIHA, and I don't want it. I just... don't really want the abuse anymore, no matter how much extra money it is.

Today, I think, was the clincher. I'm working a tournament this weekend for a charity; that means I'm working the tournament pro bono (free). Just like every other night I've had to go to the rink, I just... didn't want to go, and would run through scenarios in my head where I could call in and say I couldn't make it. Needless to say, I went, but learned I was alone for both games. The first game... yikes. I didn't do that well. I FUCKED a goal call - I mean, just fucked it, clumsily, like a first timer - and had to wave off two trips because the same faggot dove (and he screamed so loud about the second one that I T'ed him up... with his team having the puck in the offensive zone, with five seconds left, down one. That was a fuck-you call if I ever made one).

The second one was the one that I think made me realize just how little I want it at this point. The goaltender of one of the teams - a kid I've known since he was a teen - was drunk, apparently, and decided that after getting lit up for five in the first, it was time to fight... anyone and everyone. So when I got in there and tried to calm him down, he started shoving ME. Oh, fuck you; out you go. But that would have left the team without a goaltender, and forfeiting a game in a charity tournament. That's something neither team wanted, so what I ended up doing was dinging the goaltender for an unsportsmanlike conduct, as well as a rough. It was funny, because I looked at him after he did this, and had the funniest convo I've had as a ref...

"DO YOU SEE THIS SHIRT!?"
"What about it?"
"SEE THE STRIPES!?"
"Yeah?"
"DO YOU SEE THIS BADGE!?"
"Fuck you, I don't care"
"HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MOTHERFUCKING MARBLES!?"
"Yeah"

He took four penalties in that period alone. Shockingly, he played well in the 2nd, but both teams, at this point, were trying to kill each other. All said, I called 32 penalties in just over two periods of work. I did not get to three periods of work because of this wonderful goaltender. He finally snapped in the third, after whacking someone, getting hit in retaliation, and deciding that this was the time to fight. I couldn't have taken him out better than I did; just a picture perfect linesman takedown. He got up, and we were holding each other's arms, and he was shoving me, but this time, I was shoving back; I'm tired of being bossed physically by players. He's saying he's going to kick my ass, and I told him he didn't want to do that, do the smart thing, but almost unnoticed to everyone but a few players, I had tossed my whistle off, as if it was a set of gloves. That's a sure sign that I'm ready to fight if he is, and his team - who needed a goalie so they ended up getting this guy, and didn't know what they were in for when the game started - was basically warning him to back off, now. Then he started trying to get his arm loose; at this point, I threw him into the net, and at this point, his team stepped in. I ended the game at that point, and let the tournament director that I was SERIOUSLY considering pulling out. He more or less begged me to stay on... but I didn't stay on for him.

I stayed on for Terrell. I'm working with him on Sunday, and we're working three-man with another guy. That's something we're looking forward to, but I think that last game - the "A" division final - is going to be my last game. I'm going to tell Terrell that I'm working as the ref (instead of linesman, where, considering our skillsets, I'm more comfortable; he's a classic referee, I'm a classic linesman), but I'm not telling him that it's my last game yet. I don't want to hear complaints. I'm going to let Mike (the guy that runs the regular league) that I'm done, mainly to tell him to pull me from the January games. I won't miss them, and considering she'll be here, neither will Aileen.

I'm not even really sad. It's emotional to know that for all intents and purposes, my career is over in two days. But I've been considering this for some time, and at this point... it's time. It's time for me to do other things. I want to write more. I want to get back into baseball. I want to get away from organized hockey for awhile. For over two years, I've had no fun with this game... until I took a puck and stick and fucked around in the parking lot. I wouldn't mind playing shinny for awhile. Just... playing. Like in the street, or on the pond. But organized hockey... I think I'm done for at least awhile.

It's ironic because I was even thinking about this at work, as I saw the story of Elena Delle Donne on ESPN. This was a basketball All-American who's had a personal trainer since she was 7, who went to UConn... for 48 hours, before telling Coach Auriemma that she couldn't do it; she was burned out on basketball. Of course the coach didn't get it, but he let her go; now, instead of being a star Freshman on the #1 team in the nation that is blowing away everyone and anyone they play, she's playing Volleyball at the University of Deleware. It's a large difference, but she's happy; she had simply burned out on the constant struggle of top-level basketball, where they have systems drummed into their heads since 10. Hockey's been kinda the same thing since I started top-level officiating, but if anything, the politics and everything else did me in. Even Mom says it; I'm... tired.

I might feel differently in a few weeks, but I doubt it. I just... don't want to go tomorrow - I regard it as ruining my day - and I haven't wanted to go for awhile. So I'll get through tomorrow (as long as I'm not alone), and then finish Sunday, for all intents and purposes, my final hockey game, at the rink where I started, with my favourite partner, working as the referee for a final.

Couldn't get a better way to go out than that.

Comments

burning_phoneix
Dec. 27th, 2008 01:55 pm (UTC)
I'm sure this is the right decision. Like FESS, some things have to be let go when they stop being something you like and morph into a chore.
laylea
Dec. 27th, 2008 11:15 pm (UTC)
^ This, this, this.

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