Sports Column: Refs are not exempt

Sports Column: Refs are not exempt
June 27
02:00 2019

I recently wrote two articles about the things I have been noticing in youth basketball and football. I wrote about those subjects because I am passionate about the youth and desire to see them put in the best possible situation for success.  

The topics that I covered in the column were not meant to be an indictment on the entire youth sports landscape, but more of displeasure with the mishandling of kids stemming from those bad situations. For me, youth sports are all about the kids and the focus should remain on them, not the coaches or parents.

I purposely left out speaking about referees in both of those columns, because I had too much to speak about to add them at the end of one of those articles. The refs play a role in some of what is wrong with youth sports. I will agree, there are some officials out there who do this simply for a paycheck and that is wrong.

For any official to step foot out on the court simply for financial gain and not give it his all is doing the kids a disservice. To me, I look at every game like Game 7 of the NBA Finals, because that’s how many of the kids look at it. These kids are happy to step out on the court and give it 100%, so why shouldn’t it?  

Of course, I have not seen all the refs in either sport, but from the refs I have been around, in both basketball and football, most of them give it their all every time they step out on the court or field. To be fair, I have seen some refs who were out there to get the game over with as quickly as possible, by not blowing the whistle or not throwing a flag.

The things that frustrate me the most from some of the slacking refs and officials are that they are not hustling, letting the game get too physical just to keep the clock moving, and arguing with players, coaches and fans. My belief is as a ref, we are out there to maintain order on the court or field and to ignore comments from coaches, parents and players. I believe if a coach or player has a legitimate question, then you answer it.

I think some refs forget that emotions run high on the court for players. I am a former All-American athlete in high school and college, so I know what it’s like to give it your all on the field of play. Emotions are part of the game and as refs, we must remain calm when players get emotional, which is why I try to most often give the players the benefit of the doubt.  

I have seen refs get into it with coaches, parents and fans. I think a referee must maintain his cool, unless he is threatened with bodily harm or some extreme circumstance, but those are few and far between. Refs must learn to block out the noise coming from those who do not factor in with what is going on, on the field or court.

Another issue I am noticing with some refs is that they are simply getting too old to keep up with the game. They are very knowledgeable about the game, but their bodies can’t get up and down the court or field quickly enough.  

As I stated earlier, most of the referees I have seen or worked with are good at what they do. People need to realize that they are human and will make mistakes from time to time. There is no way a basketball or football official can get every call right.  

Yes, there are some young officials out there that may not have the experience to get everything right, but they must start somewhere, right? I think everyone involved, from parents, refs and coaches, need to realize they are all out there for the sake of the kids. If people try and remember that, I am sure many of these issues can be eliminated.

People need to understand that refs and officials are not out to get the kids. They most often don’t know the kids from a can of paint, so to think they have something against your kids is ridiculous. Just know that sport officials are out there to not only get a paycheck, but to make sure the kids have the best experience possible.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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