Treatment of Officials

     Team sports for both youth and adults are a valuable part of any community.  It provides an opportunity for everyone to get active, play with family and friends, learn valuable team and leadership skills, and most importantly you have fun.  The benefits without question outweigh the cons as there are many life lessons to be learned.  However we have reached a point in society where it is no longer enough to be able to simply play a game, now game officials have come under much more scrutiny.  
     In our society the expectations of game officials in any sport have started to reach unrealistic expectations at every level.  Right now we have greatly increased our expectations of officials and at the same time our tolerance for a perceived mistake has greatly increased.  This is not a good combination and can quickly see a game get out of control.  
     For the purpose of this blog we are just simply going to speak about the recreational level of officiating.  In most cases these are either young men or women who also play high school or collegiate sports or adults that simply want to give back to their communities.  The pay they receive is not great and they basically do it for the love of the game.  They do go through a few meetings and clinics to get them ready to officiate a youth baseball or football game or an adult softball or basketball game.  They simply aren’t paid or trained like a professional level official.  At the same time we don’t ask them to be that type of officials.  All we ask is that they look and act professional and simply do the best they can.  For some reason this is not enough for many who play the game.  They want to argue every call or say how bad the officials are whenever the opportunity presents itself.  This is the type of behavior that must stop.
     Imagine you taking your family out to dinner on a Saturday evening.  You get to the restaurant and the place is packed.  It takes around 5 minutes for the waitress to get to your table and maybe the food takes a few minutes longer because it is busy.  Yet you choose to berate the waitress loud enough for the other customers to hear and continue to your tirade and criticize everything she does.  You proceed to use foul language to drive your point home and make sure the waitress know what a worthless human being she is.  At no point in society would we find this behavior acceptable at a restaurant or in any business for that matter and many of you would be horrified and embarrassed.  However this type of behavior is acceptable at any youth or adult athletic event, or at least justified by many of you.  It is time to stop and simply take a step back.  Some will say we are playing customers at an athletic event so it is okay, but by that logic anytime you are a paying customer it is okay to act like that.  It is not acceptable behavior at any time or any location.
     Officiating is a difficult job and a thankless one at that.  They are simply doing it because they enjoy the sport and want to give back while getting some exercise in the process.  They simply want to do the best job they can and hopefully witness a competitive and fun game.  In other words their goals are very similar to any player on any team.  Remember it is just a game and you play to have fun, otherwise why play?