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Posts Tagged ‘referee

HS basketball player throws ref to floor

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Hat tip to The Big Lead for this video of a DeSoto County (Fla.) High School basketball player, upon being tossed from the game by a referee, returns the favor by, literally, tossing the ref. (Incident is at 1:25.)

I could go on about how this is the natural progression of referees constantly being berated and threatened by parents, coaches and fans during games at all levels, but that would be too easy, wouldn’t it? Even if it is correct.

Unfortunately for the young man in the video (I can’t find his name anywhere, and the DeSoto athletic director told The Big Lead he wouldn’t reveal it because he wasn’t sure whether the player was 17 or 18), he could face severe consequences for losing his temper, assuming charges are filed. I’m no lawyer, but in this case it would appear that the best course would be battery, defined under Florida law as touching or striking another person, without use of a weapon.

In its 2010 legislative session, Florida bumped up battery of a sports official from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony. Ordinarily, anyone committing battery has to have a prior conviction on the charge in order for to reach felony status. But if the act is done against a sports official during the course of a contest, the felony battery charge can apply, even if the alleged batterer has no prior convictions, and that means a stay of up to 5 years in a state prison. The lesson being, if you’re going to beat the ref, do so a day later, when a misdemeanor charge would apply.

No no no, the lesson is, keep your temper in check — in the stands, and on the court. Then nobody gets hurt, and nobody goes to court. For all the silly reasons to go to jail, popping off at a referee seems like one of the silliest.

UPDATE: A police report was filed at the behest of the referee, Jim Hamm, 51, of Punta Gorda, Fla. The player was identified as Mason Holland, 18, the captain of the DeSoto County team.

According to a police interview obtained by The Smoking Gun, a “remorseful” Holland said he was upset because he thought the referees were allowing the other team (Port Charlotte) to rough him up, yet calling fouls on his team. Hamm is quoted is saying that though he wanted to file a report, he “did not want to see Mason get arrested and/or go to jail.” That decision may be out of Hamm’s hands.

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Written by rkcookjr

December 14, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Gun, unfired, scatters Canadian youth soccer parents

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North Scarborough Soccer Club. Its website says it’s Where Soccer Lives. But right now, it’s Where Soccer Dies. At least in the 13-and-under division.

That’s because referees, since July 12, have refused to work its matches, and because other teams in its York Region Soccer Association refuse to play it. All because some parent flashed a gun when he accosted a referee after a game to register his slight displeasure at the way the game was called.

Note: North Scarborough is in Canada, so that’s why they’re all weenies just because some guy brandished a gun while going apeshit on a referee after a game. Hey, in Tennessee, that action has the official approval of the state legislature!

What was your call on that goal again, ref?

The North Scarborough folks say no gun was flashed, but no matter. The folks in Salinas, Calif., can tell you that once your neighborhood gets a reputation as a dangerous place, teams suddenly remember game day was the day they had already scheduled to get their hair washed.

From the Toronto Globe and Mail:

The incident again raises the issue of abuse against officials in children’s sports, a matter that Hockey Canada has had to deal with in the past. However, firearms-related offences are almost unheard of at this level of sports.

“It’s incredibly isolated,” said Mr. Green, the YSRA secretary. “We don’t run into a lot of alleged gunplay at soccer games generally. We’ve certainly dealt with a reasonable number of alleged referee assaults, whether they be verbal assault or pushing/shoving/the odd punch in the face or whatever the case may be, that has happened, and we deal with it accordingly under the jurisdiction of wherever the discipline needs to be heard.”

It’s reassuring that the youth soccer association is confident it doesn’t run into a lot of alleged gunplay at soccer games generally. Then again, it doesn’t run a league in Tennessee.

Written by rkcookjr

August 9, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Is fan abuse making the youth referee an endangered species?

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Who WOULDN’T want to take grief for $35 a game?

Mark Hyman, author of a recently published tome about what ails youth sports, in the New York Times took aim at a chronic problem: abuse of officials.

Looking for part-time employment in a field in which hundreds of onlookers can raise a ruckus over one’s honest mistake or no mistake at all? There are plenty of openings.

Around the country, it has become harder to find youth sports officials and to keep experienced ones on the job. The situation has forced some games to be postponed and others to be played with short-handed crews. In some places, it is not unusual for football referees to work two games on long and exhausting Friday nights. Spot shortages are also common in soccer and volleyball.

“Are we desperately short? No,” said Jack Folliard, the executive director of the Oregon Athletic Officials Association. “But we are struggling to get enough officials.”

The cause of the problem is not a mystery to those in striped shirts, who are growing weary over abuse from agitated fans, most of them adults.

“I have officials specifically tell me that’s why they’re not renewing their licenses anymore,” said Fran Martin, the assistant executive director of the Kansas High School Athletic Association. “They’re tired of putting up with the behavior.”

It’s difficult to get a handle on how many officials are really quitting, because this recession has created in some areas a boom in the number of people who’ll take that extra $50-75 a night while they try to find, presumably, less abusive employment. But, no doubt, youth official abuse is one of those problems that’s always been with us (I remember my mom, as official scorer during one of my games, having to make sure one coach left the field after the ump ejected him over his abuse — a coach that happened to be one Lyle Moran, my Little League’s founder), and probably always will be.

Think of yourself watching a pro game on television. How often are you outwardly berating the referees? Yes, these are pros, and you might have money on the line, but an occasional gripe is one thing. If you’re constantly blaming your team’s woes on the referees, then you’re a whiner, you’re teaching your kid to be a whiner, and you’re probably more likely to be the type who is going to go off on some 14-year-old girl umping your 8-year-old daughter’s softball game. It’s not that referees are blameless and mistake-free. It’s teaching a lesson to the kids you raise, and you coach, that you worry about the things you can control, like how you play. Kids aren’t going to become better players if they learn everything is always the official’s fault.

Bill Wells, the fine youth sports columnist for the Springfield (Mass.) Republican, has two good rules on the only times it’s acceptable to give grief to a youth sports official:

While I’m not a fan of yelling at officials, there are at least two scenarios where I think it’s acceptable, although not ideal. If an official tries to make an example out of a player, or if an official is letting dirty play continue, I think a coach or spectator is somewhat justified in yelling at an official as long as it does not include poor language or threats. Talking to the official would be best, but in the heat of the moment, things do happen.

Note that these scenarios have to do with safety and fairness — not whether the official is a fucking blind incompetent. The only times as a coach I can remember even talking to a referee during a game about calls is when I coached basketball, and I thought players were a little loose with the elbows and a little eager to undercut shooters. In those cases, though, I waited for a time out, and I suggested (nicely, I hope) that even though this is a rec league and things are called a little more loosely, that it might be a good idea to make sure that stuff stops. Like any humanoid, a referee tends to respond better if you ask, respectfully, than if you ask him to open his fucking eyelids, you stupid shit.

Also a good thing to remember for youth sports parents and coaches: The level of officiating can only be equal to the level of play. So if you’re watching a 8-year-old’s baseball game where five out of every six pitches is behind the batter, don’t expect a major-league level umpire.

However, I’m going to assume that not everyone is going to be nice and understanding. It happens. People watch their teams and their kids, and they get emotional, protective, ready to strike if they feel their young ones are being wronged.

So for the self-protection and sanity of officials, I would like to suggest they follow what I will call Sarzo’s Rules for Referees.

I name these after Mike Sarzo, who in 2009 became one of those aforementioned unemployed-turned-referees. Whatever his job situation, Sarzo has continued to officiate various sports, from football to baseball to lacrosse, in the suburban Washington haunts of Maryland. I interviewed him by email in December 2009 about his experiences, and daggone it, he didn’t have multiple harrowing tales to tell about rabid fans wanting to string him up at game’s end.

A lot of this, I believe, is because Sarzo keeps a good head about him on the field. Distilling what he told me, I give you Sarzo’s Rules for Referees:

1. Keep in mind that coaches, fans and players advocate for their own teams.

2. Tune out the comments, and keep the focus on your job.

3. But if the comments go too far, then be prepared to take action. When you say, “Coach, that’s enough,” mean it.

4. Crewmates should support each other on the field. (Off the field, you can critique each other all you want.)

5. Slow down. Make sure you see what happens before you make the call.

While these five rules might not minimize referee abuse, at least they can help the official deal with it. They also increase the chance that even the coach has been a jackhole all game, once the excitement and adrenaline has passed, Coach Jackhole will walk up to you, extend a hand, and say, “Good game, ref.”

Written by rkcookjr

June 10, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Be like Galarraga: Don't get upset about the officials

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The baseball world is, justifiably, in a state of apoplexy because first-base umpire Jim Joyce’s blown safe call at first base with two outs in the ninth denied on June 2 a perfect game to Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga.

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This isn’t the greatest angle to see Joyce’s missed call, but it’s the best shot of a video that doesn’t get pulled for a terms-of-use violation. Plus, you can “hear” the silent shock of the crowd.

This isn’t the spot where you’re going to read an argument over whether Major League Baseball should join the rest of civilized society and institute some form of instant replay (though it should). This is where you’re going to read about the lesson Armando Galarraga has learned, given his reaction to the play: That nothing good comes from worrying and gnashing your teeth over the officials.

When I coach, I tell players all the time that I’m the only one who gets to worry about the referees — and that I won’t. (Exception: when it looks like someone is going to get hurt because of overly rough play. Then I pull the ref aside during a timeout and talk about it.) I tell kids that if you’re blaming the refs or reacting to every call, you’re not going to be on your game.

This has been particularly true with the more talented players. I’ve seen kids who dominate their opposition suddenly look human because they were so busy sulking over a referee’s call. No matter who the player is, however, I’ve never hesitated to bench someone who was worrying more about what the ref was going to do, rather than what the opposing team was going to do.

I extend that message into not blaming teammates or anyone outside yourself for something going wrong. Ask my 7-year-old, whom I chastised after he came back to the bench blaming bad pitches for striking out during coach-pitch baseball. I pointed out, with the double barrels of coach and father lecturing, that he got the same pitches as everyone else, and that if he’s ever going to get better as a baseball player, he had better not blame other people when he is unsuccessful. He seemed a little shocked by that verbal slap to the face.

My message is not that officials never make mistakes, or that your teammates never make mistakes. But in youth sports, if you allow a kid to focus his or her frustrations outward, they’re never going to develop the mindset that maybe they should improve themselves — thus, perhaps, mitigating the effects of a bad call or a teammate’s foul-up.

I also want kids to learn that mistakes happen. If they can’t forgive others for them, they also might not forgive themselves. And sometimes, bad stuff just happens. You have to learn to deal with it quickly and move on.

Fortunately, that is what Armando Galarraga is doing. When Joyce made his call, Galarraga left the arguing to his manager. On June 3, in an afternoon game against the same Cleveland Indians he faced the night before, Galarraga delivered the lineup card to Joyce, this day’s home-plate umpire. And Galarraga smiled with Joyce. Sure, it’s easier for Galarraga to laugh knowing Joyce admitted to blowing the call, and says he feels awful about it. But even though Joyce probably killed Galarraga’s only chance to throw a rare perfect game, the pitcher isn’t letting it define him. I bet he, and Joyce, will be the better for it.

Contrast that with the bitter ex-Cubs pitcher Milt Pappas and the cantankerous ump Bruce Froemming, arguing since 1972 over a ball-four call Pappas said ruined his only chance for a perfect game (though he still got the no-hitter).

Hearing these angry coots still arguing nearly 40 years later is evidence of how much worrying about the officials can eat you up inside, and define your play on the field more than your actual play on the field.

Is yelling at youth sports officials OK?

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That musical question is asked by Springfield (Mass.) Republican columnist Bill Wells.

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“WHAT a lousy UMPire… WHAT a lousy UMP-ire… WHAT a lousy UMP-ire…” — it’s like a remix  with no music.

You can click through to see what Wells has to say. But because you’re here, I’ll give my answer, which is applicable from high school on down, but especially so for any game involving prepubescent children.

My first rule, to myself and the players I coach, is that the level of officiating can be no better than the level of play. So if you’re expecting NBA-level refs at a fifth-grade basketball game, you’re due to be disappointed.

My second rule, to myself and the players I coach, is that yelling at the official is a waste of time that only takes your focus away from the task at hand. I’ve seen too many players get caught up in what calls are made or not made, and completely take themselves out of the game. I tell them if anybody is going to talk to the official — not yell, but talk — it’s me.

My third rule, to myself, is that only rarely will I talk to the referee during the game, except to call a time out. I have exceptions. One is if I feel like the game is getting dangerously out of control. I have pointed out during basketball games that my players are getting hit with elbows, or I have asked the refs to get control of a kid who might be pushing or undercutting people. (If that happens with my own team, I handle it.) I don’t speak to the refs like they’re idiots. Sometimes they don’t call fouls because at younger ages refs sometimes are instructed to let the kids play.

Yes, I have, on a few occasions, questioned individual calls. But I ask for clarification — why was that a travel instead of a foul? And I try to use that to instruct my team — here is what the refs and calling and why.

The rules are the same when I coach baseball or softball. Except that usually kids throwing elbows aren’t quite such a big issue.

As for parents yelling at referees, in my intro letters to them, I note rules Nos. 1 and 2 in hopes that if they have any inclination to yell at officials. As far as I’m concerned, parents have the least right to yell at officials, and that’s at a standard where no one has the right to yell at them. Parents who yell at officials tend to general pains in the asses to players and coaches, for one thing.

For another, you as a parent are not making your kid any better by sending the signal that any failures are because of a bad call. In fact, you train your kid to be as big of a pain in the ass as you are.

Written by rkcookjr

February 7, 2010 at 6:11 pm

Football fan hits ref with chair, pro-wrestling style (updated with arrest info)

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Vince McMahon might weep with joy at the above Alabama high school football fan’s ability to run and swing a chair with pinpoint accuracy. Then again, McMahon might also weep with disbelief at how three older, out-of-shape-looking referees turned around and whomped the guy, unscripted, after he hit one of their own across the back with said chair.

You might have seen this video elsewhere in the last few days — I caught it on Total Pro Sports. The incident happened after the final gun in a high school football game featuring two Alabama small-school powers, undefeated host Hackleburg and Lynn, which suffered its first loss when it fell to Hackleburg 20-14 in its homecoming game.

Hackleburg, located about two hours northwest of Birmingham, near the Mississippi border, is most famous as the hometown of country singer Sonny James, the Southern Gentleman. But it’s going to get a lot more famous for what that Southern Anti-Gentleman did with the chair. You can see at about 1:15 into the video (the action is paused so you can get a good look at the alleged assailant) that a fan tosses a folding chair over the fence surrounding the field. Once the game ends, he sprints through the crowd on the field and whaps a ref, before he gets set upon by the zebras and various fans.

I presume this would have to be a Lynn fan who was upset. But details about who this guy is, and what happened in the aftermath, are sorely lacking. I checked three different writeups of the game, and none mention the chair incident. I haven’t found any follow-up on the story, either, beyond snarky blog posts.

I called the Marion County (Ala.) Sheriff’s Department to see if this person was arrested. The very nice lady who answered the phone said any trouble would have been handled by Hackleburg police, so I would need to call police chief Kenny Hallmark when he’s back in the morning. So that’s what I’ll do. For what it’s worth, the current jail roster in Marion County doesn’t mention anyone brought in from Hackleburg. Given I’m writing this four days after the Oct. 2 incident, I presume someone would have come up with the guy’s bail money by now if he booked a suite in the ol’ Graybar Hotel.

I talked with Hackleburg police chief Kenny Hallmark, who identified the fan in the video as Don Cagle, 22, of Jasper, Ala. He was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and two Class C felonies: assault on a sports official and assault on a police officer. Class C is the least severe felony charge — assault in the third degree. Hallmark said that after the video ended, Cagle kicked an officer and spit in his face three times. Cagle bonded out of Marion County Jail, though no court date has yet been set. Hallmark said Cagle has no criminal record that he knows of. Hallmark said he couldn’t speak to a motive, though he noted Cagle was on the Lynn side of the field and was wearing Lynn colors.

By the way, Alabama is one of the many states that have strengthened their assault penalties when it comes to attacking a sports official, which gives you an idea how often this stuff happens, or at least happened before the laws were place. It’s telling that you can get the same penalty for assaulting a referee as you can a police officer. In Cagle’s case, he could face one to 10 years in jail and a $15,000 fine if gets convicted on one of the felony charges, double if he gets convicted on both. The guy who attacked the referee could face felony assault charges that would put him in prison for up to 20 years. We know who’ll be weeping if that happens, and it won’t be Vince McMahon.

Written by rkcookjr

October 6, 2009 at 9:38 pm

You suck (at finding a job), ref!

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This is how bad the economy has gotten. It’s driven otherwise sane people who usually try to avoid getting yelled at by strangers to become youth league referees. From the Canadian Press:

Administrators around the country are reporting an increase in the number of people interested in officiating, especially in areas hit hard by the recession. The job typically won’t make ends meet but it can help: A particularly active referee can earn more than US$10,000 in a year.

Barry Mano, president of the National Association of Sports Officials, has long noticed an inverse relationship between the economy and sports officiating. When more people have free time and are looking for work, it’s easier to find officials.

High school sports organizations in the Rust Belt are reporting a significant uptick. Michigan had just over 13,000 officials last school year, up 1,000 from five years previous. The situation is similar in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Hank Zaborniak of the Ohio High School Athletic Association says it’s easy to tell which parts of the state are struggling economically. Those are the places with plenty of officials.

“When the steel mills closed down in Youngstown and the manufacturing drops off, we’ll see a spike,” Zaborniak said. “We’ll see more folks from that area of the state enter officiating, and often times it’s because of the additional income, just to help offset what they might have lost.”

2054636125_c12f6d6ab0“You’re fucking blind! And unemployed!”

If I lost my job, I would have to think long and hard about whether getting screamed at by parents and wanna-be Belichicks would be something I would want to do. I’m not sure I love my family that much.

Written by rkcookjr

August 24, 2009 at 11:41 pm

Posted in Sports, U.S.

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