“Time to retire, old man!”
“Open your eyes, blue!”
“Get a new prescription!”
“You don’t know anything about this game!”
“Sir! ... Sir! ... SIR! ... Come on, sir!”
“How much did they pay you!?”
“Call it both ways!”
All of these phrases sound pretty familiar, don’t they?
I’ve heard them or ones like them a million times as I’ve covered Utah Valley high school sports for nearly two decades. I can clearly remember hearing just about all of them in the last week or two.
As I stood on the sidelines, part of me understands the competitive nature of events and how when the decisions of officials or umpires aren’t what we want. It’s natural when you are keyed up and wanting victory desperately that some reactions are hard to control.
But I wish players, coaches and fans tried harder to treat officials with more respect.
I wonder how many people stop to think about what high school sports would be like without officials.
Anyone who has played pickup games knows it would be a complete mess.
I love the all of the sports too much to see them deteriorate because of not having people trained to enforce the rules and regulations.
Someone has to be in charge of enforcement and guess what?
They are going to make mistakes.
As one of my friends who officiates told an athlete, “I’ll call a perfect game when you play a perfect game.”
So give them a break.
Recognize that a ref can only call what he can see and as he/she interprets the rules. Sometimes you will see it from a different angle or video recording will show that a mistake was made.
Deal with it and move on.
I can’t begin to count the times I’ve seen teams in all sports lose their focus because they or their coaches or their fans get so distracted by what a referee or an umpire is calling. Sometimes it has resulted in a squad losing a game they could’ve won.
Do you want to be that team?
Success on the field and the court and the diamond often hinges on discipline: The discipline to lay off a high fast ball or make the extra pass or to not stab when someone is dribbling a soccer ball at you.
I would love to see more athletes (and coaches and supporters in the crowd) develop the same discipline when it comes to how a game is being called.
This doesn’t mean you need to agree with the calls.
It just means your mentality should be that you are going to be the best player or team in the competition despite what any referee or umpire does.
That mentality, in my opinion, makes it easier to acknowledge that even with their faults, the officials are just people trying to do a job as well as they can.
I applaud their efforts and their fortitude. I appreciate their willingness to go to work knowing what is in store.
I hope we have dozens or hundreds of new referees who are brave enough and passionate enough about their sports to be in charge of enforcing the rules for years to come.
As everyone heads to their respective state playoff competitions in the next few weeks, I invite you to thank the officials for their efforts and give them the benefit of the doubt as much as possible.
It’ll make the events better for everyone.