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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

If You're A Referee, I'd Like to Hear from You

I've heard some disturbing stories recently about parents who tried to intimidate referees at high school matches. In one instance, the parents parked their cars in such a way to block the ref's car in.

This was in a pretty well-heeled suburb, at a soccer game.

What, on earth, gives?

These are games.

Children's games.

Games are supposed to be fun.

If we start to evaluate our society by how we play our games, then we're not doing so well, are we? Yes, it's fun to win, but within the spirit of sportsmanship.

What are your stories?


Anonymous tonym said...

My dad has been a baseball, football and basketball official for the last 34 years and I paid for a significant portion of my education (OK, the beer I drank during the five years I spent in college) umpiring local high school and summer league baseball.

Here are a few things I've picked up on in my personal experience and observation:

- By the time high school varsity sports come around, most coaches, athletes and parents are familiar enough with the rules and serious about the game to understand that the officials are doing the best they can to apply the rules fairly.

- Summer leagues and Pee Wee games are a mixed bag. Most of the kids will not continue playing beyond the age of 13, and probably half are only playing because their parents signed them up. Pee Wee football is the absolute worst. That's generally where Dad's ego is still wrapped up in Junior being the stud linebacker or quarterback or whatever. I have not met a football official who actually likes Pee Wee.

- Officials can invite criticism by appearing unsure about a call or a rule application. Certainly, officials blow calls and miss penalties fairly regularly -- the key being the word "regularly" as in "consistently" if you get my drift.

In the eight years I umpired baseball, I only had one parent/coach who wanted to fight me. I'd umpired his Pony league all season (and listened to him bitch) and his (and his son's) team made it to the championship game. His son made the final out in a close play at home plate. It was close. I had to make sure the catcher held onto the ball, and my hesitation before signaling the out drove him into a blind rage. The game was over. He lost.

Being an "invincible" and quite strapping 22-year old at the time, I wasn't terribly concerned that he chased me to my car after the game because I'd have happily thrown him the beating he deserved for being a jerk all summer in front of his 13-year old son.

Until his son spoke up, of course, and quietly defused the situation with six words:

"Dad, we lost. Let's go home."

10:51 AM  
Anonymous The Sports Curmudgeon said...


I officiated sports (basketball, soccer, some baseball and did line calls for tennis) for 37 years. I could write you several long chapters about parents' nonsensical behaviors but I won't bore you with them. Here's the worst:

I and a partner were doing an 11-12 year olds recreation league basketball game one Saturday. My partner was 19 years old and this was his first year officiating; he eventually turned out to be a good official but this was not his finest game by a long shot. He knew he'd messed up a few calls but he was ready to move on.

Waiting for the next game to start, he walked outside the gym to get some air and gather himself. The father of a player from the losing team jumped him from behind and a fight ensued. The kid stood there and watched his dad and my parther duke it out for about a minute.

One of the parents of a player in the upcoming game was walking into the gym; he was an off-duty police officer for the jurisdiction in which the game was being played. He intervened.

So, "Angry Dad" wound up being read his Miranda Rights; my partner got to swear out a complaint against him and "Angry Dad" spent one night in the hoosegow until his wife got home from wherever she was and arranged to bail him out.

This was over a recreation league game for 11 and 12 year olds. Can you spell M-O-R-O-N?

4:19 PM  

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