Thank goodness the replacement referee fiasco in the NFL is over. But that whole debacle brings to light something we as sports parents need to think about: how should we view refs? And does it really matter how we treat them?
If you are a coach, then it is your job to coach the team and protect your players. Sometimes that means you will have rather testy conversations with the referees or umpires. That’s a subject for another post.
If you are a parent, it is your job to offer positive support from the stands or sidelines and let the coach do his job. But what if you are outraged at a ref or ump’s call?
I honestly cannot sit here as I am writing this blog and ask you not to get mad at the refs or umps. Just as I cannot ask you to never get angry at your kids or your spouse or your co-workers.
You will see calls you dislike, calls that very well may be wrong. You will get angry at sloppy officiating. But the question is, what will you do about it?
You’ve got a choice
When an ump or a ref makes a call that you strongly dislike, you can:
A. Scream at him or her, using vulgarity, rude names, and calling them incompetent. It’s funny how we are so bold to yell things from the stands that we would never say face to face. When you do this, you are setting the example that it’s okay to yell at people and call them unprintable names, and talk about their mothers in a not-very-nice way.
B. Say nothing, laugh or shrug it off and move on. This could show that you’re very mature, or it could mean that you don’t give a darn about sports.
C. Commiserate with the people sitting next to you about the bad call. This may make you feel better and give you a common bond with other sports parents, it also might make you sound like a whiner if you do it all the time.
D. Approach the ref after the game and express your opinion about his calls. Umm….this only works as a venting mechanism. I tried it and I’m not real sure it was a mature example for my kids.
E. Say nothing to the ref, but blame the loss entirely on him. When you express this to your kids, they will get the idea that blaming others for our problems is a perfectly acceptable way to get out of shouldering responsibility. Okay, I know there are those rare occasions when it really might seem true, but honestly, we know that wins and losses are a result of how teams play during the whole game.
I think I’ve done every one of the above at some point during my 20 years as a sports mom. And I have to tell you: Neither A,B,C,D, or E made a flipping difference in the game.
How then, should we treat them?
With respect. Plain and simple. As you would want your kids to treat any human, and especially authority. Remember, your kids see your behavior as permission to follow suit.
And quite honestly, acting like a jerk never made things better.
Get my free new report: Sportsparents’ Guide: 55 time & money-saving tips guaranteed to make your life easier. You’ll also get regular sports parenting tips each week and a weekly parenting tip. Sign up here.