Updated: Apr 8
“Your Refs Suck!”, said a parent whose team lost in the Championship Game of a 4th grade girls tournament!
The number one complaint of youth sports, 50 years ago, and yet, still rings true today! The opinion of a few resonates in gyms across the country, no matter the level or age of the participant. It’s part of the entertainment we enjoy talking about as we walk out to our car after a professional, college, high school and yes, even more so at the youth levels. “Can you believe that guy sitting next to me!.. What an idiot!”. I’m sure people were thinking I was going to write, “Can you believe how horrible that official was!”.. More times than not, the person people remember and talk about during a parental/official altercation is the parent who goes off the deep-end, emotions high, and no experience on what it takes to be an official.
Yes, we hear both sides of it all the time, and becomes part of our weekly follow up and process to legitimize the complaints or categorize it as what Athletic Directors and administrators have done for years, “it’s just the way it is” file. However, we hear and get people who follow up with us identifying parents and fans who are out of control much more than we get complaints about the actual officials.
Officiating. Tough gig if you can do the work, educational aspects, and pass the test. It’s a process that very few are willing to take on, but once you do, it completely changes the perspective and opinion of the officials we all feel at times. They become human, a grandparent, mom, dad, uncle, and even with so many younger officials wanting to jump in the ring of fire of officiating, someone’s child! We are now seeing officials as young as 15 years old wanting to get involved, and hurrah!.. for them. Years ago, I was a high school, youth, and even Division I college coach. Guilty as charged, yelling, complaining, throwing a clipboard, and even using a phrase I think that went something like, “you don’t happen to have pigeon S*** in your eyes do you?!”.. I’ve been there.. and then….. all of a sudden, what changed? I became an official. And WOW.. Did it change my perspective. I’ve played the game from youth levels, high school and collegiate and coached at every level. I saw the game, and understand it from how the game is played, and how it flows. Nothing was the same on the other end, wearing stripes, and a whistle and being scrutinized on every call that was made. I think most of us, in any profession have a new found level of appreciation when you walk a day in the shoes of their individual responsibilities. My father was a construction worker, and every day, I appreciate anyone who gets up and puts in a hard day’s work, and whatever money they are making, certainly isn’t enough!
Teachers, and administrator’s in the schools should be receiving congressional medal of honors for every 5 years of service. I can’t imagine what they go through every week, and certainly, are never appreciated or compensated for their efforts. The reason our kids don’t learn of course, is because of the teacher!... 😊
Officials are the same. They aren’t volunteers by any means, but remember, they leave on a Saturday or Sunday, away from their children, significant others, and comfort of their own home to get yelled at, chastised, and even in some moments, threatened and abused. If you don’t believe it, google youth sports and officials and watch the crazy-crazy!
Thank you officials. You are valued. You are appreciated, and respected for all you do. Without officials, youth sports don’t exist. Take the time to thank an official, and you will be remembered!.. very few are willing to do it.