by John Kirwan
Great article in this week’s paper about “Stop running off our refs.”
I have been refereeing in the Charlotte-Matthews area for 30 years. I am a state NCHSAA referee, turn 60 this year and am one of the statistics in the article.
All my fellow referees I have been reffing with for years are at least 55 years old. And we have this discussion all the time about what happens when we retire. I am going to try and make it to 65 as long as my body holds up!
I have seen the increase in parent lack of respect, behavior etc. over the past 5-7 years, and it’s completely out of control now.
Parents (mostly) think they have the right to yell, berate and scream at the referees. And since most of them have cell phones with videos, (which I think is part of the problem) they think it’s their right to be loud and berating in the stands because it’s the thing to do.
Some of the comments are funny (and you have to laugh a little) but sometimes their comments are over the top and completely disrespectful and demeaning. I think sometimes they don’t even know what they are saying and/or they don’t know the current rules.
Why? Watch college ball or even NBA ball. What are the fans doing? There are tons of bad examples at these games. The kids (in the student section) can be off the chart, too. And what examples are they seeing, (but) bad behaving parents and coaches.
Are we, the referees, going to get every call right? No, but we will do our best to be correct every time, administer the rules and keep the games under control. Basketball is a very fast-paced game now and the referee has a split second to make a decision and make the call. We don’t have instant replay in secondary school sports.
I referee basketball because it’s good exercise, I enjoy the game, it’s fun to do (most of the time) and I want to be a positive influence on the athletes we are charged to administer in the game. Our job is to keep the game under control and administer the rules of the game. If you would like to know how much training we do for each season, let me know. I will fill you in. it’s not a ‘throw in the stripes and get a whistle” type of deal at all.
Parents, on the other hand, can be very emotional, over-invested in the athletes’ success or lack of success, and feel it’s the referee’s fault if their son or daughter’s team loses a close game or other things happen. Lots of outside influences sometimes give the parents the feeling it’s their right to yell, scream, berate the referees. Over my 30 years, I have seen and know many fellow referees that have said, “enough, enough” and “we don’t get paid enough to listen to that ….” And we don’t! And they have quit.
And that’s why there is a HUGE shortage of referees in N.C. I could work every night (other than Wednesday) during the basketball season if I wanted to. But my body needs a little rest time between game days and my family likes it when we have dinner together at least once a week. As it is, I will do 12 games this week including rec ball on the weekends. (rec ball, by the way, can have some of the craziest parent stuff going on versus school ball) but that’s a different story for a different day. Also, we have to pay for our own travel expenses, food etc. out of our school ball pay. It’s not a “get rich” type of deal at all. You gotta love the game or otherwise, you will do the math and say, “Why do I do this?”
John Kirwan submitted this story as a letter to the editor.