Verbal Abuse Of Referees Becoming Major Problem In New York Youth Sports
It's kind of been a growing theme for the past five years but it really seemed to ramp up this year. I've been a basketball official in the Southern Tier for almost 30 years and some of the things that I've witnessed (and heard) this past season have me wondering about the future.
It's almost like they are making up for last year. In 2021, the basketball season started later than normal and with no fans in the stands. Everyone was happy to have the opportunity to play and I was glad for the seniors.
The coaches would coach their kids and not try to officiate our games. It was a calmer environment and everyone was enjoying the time together. I think it also helped that with no fans in the stands, they were showing the games online.
So you could see and hear everything that was going on. We were even told to be careful what we said when talking to each other because the microphone picks up everything.
I had a fellow official tell me about a coach that was giving him a hard time during the first half of the basketball game last year. Before the beginning of the second half, the coach came and apologized to the official.
Apparently, the coach's wife was watching online and texted him and said "Knock it off, your embarrassing yourself." He was no problem for the rest of the game. We thought that maybe this was the beginning of something new for the 2021-22 season. We were wrong.
I would hear the parents say such disrespectful things to officials, coaches, and other parents. I know of at least one game that was stopped before halftime because of the behavior of one of the teams.
I worry about the future of officiating in every sport. 75% of our basketball board is over 50 and we aren't sure where the next batch of referees will be coming from. There are a couple of things that I can say:
We have NOTHING against your child on the basketball court.
We don't care who wins or loses, we just want to do OUR best.
We officiate because we love it. The money is nice but if you're just doing it for the moola, you won't last long as a referee.
Have fun watching your child play and cheering them on because before you know it, they'll be all grown up and gone.
I love this game and when I'm done, I'll look back with fond memories. However, if there aren't enough officials around, that means there will be games that won't be played and memories that won't be made.
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