|Title||Coaches’ Self-Initiated Complaints About Referees in Ice Hockey Postgame Press Conferences|
|Tag(s)||EMCA, Complaints, Sports, Emotion, Press conference, Recipient design, Referees, In press|
|Journal||Communication & Sport|
The formulation and management of coaches’ dissent with referees in a setting where complaints may be sanctioned presents an empirical test for the “dilemma of stake.” This article analyzes how ice hockey coaches raise complaints against referees in postgame press conferences (PGPCs). Based on the conversation analytic study of video recordings from Finnish and Swedish men’s (semi)professional ice hockey leagues, this article posits that complaints are formulated within assessment sequences and are made hearable as complaints through implicit and explicit verbal and bodily cues. This article also suggests that while referees are the non-present third party in the PGPC, the design of the complaints provides opportunities and places obligations on the participants present in the PGPC (media representatives, game officials, and the opposing coach) to (dis)align with the complainer. Finally, this article reveals a tension between the normative expectations of the coaches to stand by their team, which may include criticizing referees, while respecting referees as guardians of sporting ethics and acknowledging the increased demands for media attention.