Last week was Officials vs Cancer, a program of the International Association of Accredited Basketball Officials. Refs at all school levels were asked to donate 25% of their reffing fees to the American Cancer Society, and they raised big bucks. They always do.
But see how that plays against another ref- related program this month- “Support your Local Ref”, a program to show some respect for our sports officials in Connecticut.
Because while officials (specifically basketball refs) have been showing their love with their fight against cancer, officials in general haven’t been feeling the love at all.
You see the “Support your Local Ref ” program was initiated because the sports official community in Connecticut is in crisis- there are not enough refs to go around. And that is because 50% of all newly trained officials never return for a second season.
Verbal abuse, particularly by parents and other fans.
It’s that bad.
Six decades ago when I played Little League baseball, there was a bleacher behind home plate. The parents and fans were so abusive to the umpire, the bleacher was moved to deep center field where the expletives were harder to hear.
Little has changed, it seems.
In the sports world, no participants are more roundly maligned than the officials, right? They play the no-win position of angering one side or the other, no matter their call.
Their gaffs, which can influence a game’s outcome, often ring louder in the media than any player’s mistake. Post game air time is used to debate solutions for “bad calls”, real or perceived.
It shouldn’t have to be said, but I guess it does – behind the black and white stripes, these are people , just like us. They do their jobs as best they can, just like us. With generous hearts they raise funds against disease and other causes, just like us. And because of us their numbers are dwindling.
So while the world of professional sports continues to ask the question “What do we do with the officials?”, here on our elementary and high school athletic fields we should be asking “What would we do without them?”