It's a typical Saturday afternoon in December, and you're at your child's basketball game. The game is going on as it usually does, until the official makes a controversial call. Then all hell breaks loose.
Often times, officials and referees are the victims of verbal abuse from coaches and parents at sporting events at the youth level. The moment a call goes in the opposing team's favor, blame has to be given to someone. Somebody was wrong, right? Of course, it was the referee.
In fact, the constant abuse from coaches, parents and players is one factor for a shortage of high school referees in Missouri. Missouri is not alone. Youth and high school athletic associations are in a frantic search all over the country for referees. But many don't see the pay outweighing the verbal abuse they endure.
Here are a few things that parents need to know about referees and their involvement in a sporting event.
1. Very rarely do parents (and even coaches) actually know the rules.
Quick quiz: how many parents and coaches out there can honestly say they've read the rule books? I don't know the actual answer, but I think it's safe to say that a good majority of them haven't. Officials do know the rules. And there's a ton of them. There are hundreds of rules in each sport's rulebook that nobody has ever heard of. So next time you want to yell at the referee, give yourself some credibility and have the rulebook open to the page, article and section of the specific rule you're questioning.
2. Contrary to popular belief, referees are not bias.
Woah! Referees aren't bias? No, they aren't. This is one of the most absurd claims out there. Isn't it possible that your kid actually committed the foul? I know it seems crazy, but it does happen.
3. It is extremely rare to see a game's outcome directly affected by the referees.
Sure, exceptions happen. But they are few and far between. How many times has a kid, after a loss, said, "We would have won if the refs weren't so bad"? Parents, don't ever let your child blame a loss on the referees, or even his or her coach. It's a cop-out and a terrible habit for kids to get into at a young age. Encourage your kids to accept the fact that maybe he or she could have done better on their part to help the team win.
4. Referees are human, too.
Players make mistakes. Coaches make mistakes. Parents make mistakes. Why can't referees afford a mistake or two throughout the course of a game? Back off the referees, and understand that they mess up, too. Nothing makes a referee feel worse than knowing they missed a call. Nothing.
5. Parents and coaches need to set the example.
In the grand scheme of life, what's the big deal if your child won or lost? Of course, competitiveness is important. But, parents and coaches need to teach their kids and players the responsible way to behave. Often times, the kid who is constantly complaining to the referee has a parent that is doing the exact same thing. Teach the kids to be more accountable in their play and to accept consequences for their behavior. It's not just for sports, it's a life skill.