Technical Fouls: Horror Stories From Local Officials Vol. 2
No shortage of stories this week.
You can read the first edition here.
The number of officials for youth sports has been dwindling for years. If you talk to any youth official that's been doing it for a while they will unanimously tell you that they're concerned for the future of youth sports because pretty soon there will be no one there to officiate them.
It's not that they can't convince people to try officiating (though those numbers are dropping as well), it's that they can't convince people to keep doing it for multiple years. The main complaint amongst all officials is the abuse they receive from parents and coaches. The pay already isn't great and the travel can be brutal so most of these men and women are doing it "for the love of the game." If you're being screamed at the whole time it just isn't worth it.
I decided that we should shed some light on these incidents and get some stories out there. I asked a couple local officials for some horror stories and agreed to keep all names and schools out of it — I just wanted the bad behavior.
The point of this whole exercise is to highlight a problem that can easily be fixed by people just acting like humans. Maybe you've seen this kind of behavior, maybe you've even crossed a line yourself and haven't tried to see things from the other perspective. These are stories from that perspective.
I am also looking for submissions from the public to hopefully make this a weekly blog. If you have a story to share send me an email at Joe.Dredge@townsquaremedia.com.
To the stories:
I’ve been officiating ice hockey for almost 8 seasons now. I think one of the worst encounters I’ve had with abusive parents had to be an incident that happened at a u12 game. This was a game that I had to call an unfortunate amount of penalties, needless to say some parents didn’t agree with my calls. Throughout the game comments were shouted at me from above “you suck ref” “you’re a disgrace to the game” “maybe you should learn to ref before you get on the ice” “you should quit and never come back”. After the game was done, a father marched down from the stands and met me at the door to the rink. He screamed at me making sure I knew how awful I was and how I ruined that game for his kid and their team mates. He then finished his bombardment of degrading comments with “I’m gonna meet you out in the parking lot and make sure you never ref again”. The saddest part about this whole thing... I was 14 years old at the time. An adult threatened to beat up a 14 year old because of a hockey game. It’s really disheartening to see, but I’ve made sure that I use that as motivation to be the best official I can be. I hope something changes in the near future or else the game I love will cease to exist.
This is another phenomenon I want to highlight, the screaming at CHILDREN who are officiating. I've seen it plenty of times. You'd never scream at a 14-year-old like that on the street.
Around 2000 or 2001 RVC used to host a 3 on 3 event as a fundraiser for the athletic program. I officiated a game of 8th grade girls. One team was comprised of all white girls, the other was all black girls. The winning team won despite a 2:1 ratio of fouls being called on them, including the final 3 in a tight game. Following the game a parent from the losing team walked across the floor and called me a f$&#^ing cheater. I told him to get off the floor. He proceeded to punch me in the face. Several parents jumped him. Security arrested him.
Racist and dumb is no way to go through life.
I was officiating a NIC-10 varsity game a few years back. Team A was down one with 5 seconds left. Team B was inbounding the ball under Team A's basket. Ball gets to half court and Team A steals it. Kid had nothing between him and the basket for a game winning layup. Gets the ball off right before the buzzer and drops in. Unfortunatly, he took about 3 steps after he gathered the ball at the 3-point arc. I should note that we are playing in Team A's gym. The place is going bonkers and I'm waving it off because of the travel. The whole gym turns on me instantly, I'm alright with that, verbal stuff doesn't bother me. As I'm walking off the court an old lady hits me with her purse and more people are behind her. The AD rushes my crew and I to the back to hide. We stayed there for about an hour to make sure we could leave safely.
Exciting game! No reason to assault anyone.
Have some stories? Send them my way Joe.Dredge@townsquaremedia.com.