Unnecessary Ref-ness

refWednesday night I watched the Wyoming Cowboys get bucked off the Aggie bull in the last regular season basketball game.

At least, I think that’s what happened.

It was hard to tell from our seats on the last row behind a pillar.

Why do they even offer seats behind pillars? Why do they even put seats behind pillars?

When I purchased a ticket package online last fall, I clicked on “best available” for seating choice thinking that would secure something decent. I hate to think what the “best available” seats were for people who bought tickets after I did.

They probably had to work concessions.

It was a great game, but the officiators did make some controversial calls at crucial moments that could have cost us the game. Usually I would have joined with the boisterously booing student section rallied by the shirtless guy in the Nacho Libre get-up, but I had a different perspective of the refs this time. I actually felt a little sorry for the men in stripes when the crowd lashed out at them.

I felt sorry for them because my son is now one of them.

I recently made my son take a soccer referee course so he could work the competitive youth soccer circuit this spring and earn some green. He has very expensive taste in athletic gear and at his pubescent growth rate he’s not even stretching a full season out of stuff, so he’s got to start working to support his Nike addiction.

I know child labor laws were put in place to protect children from unjust working conditions, but government restrictions are now making it difficult for kids to get any kind of job before age eighteen. I worked in a funeral home, an ice cream parlor and a CPA firm all before I turned sixteen, yet my kids got denied to make and sell homebaked goods at our small town fair because our kitchen isn’t a “certified foodservice establishment” and they were too young to get food handlers permits.

My son is willing to work for his own dough, he just wasn’t keen on becoming a ref because as a soccer player he sees the grief they get. He did pass the course though, so now he’s officially an official.

As a mama bear, I am worried.

I’ve seen the Hulk-like transfigurations of disgruntled folk when they feel wronged by refs and I know my baby will be subject to that. While refs are not above reasonable reproof to keep them on their game, there’s no need for the nutcase displays that happen waaaay too often in youth sports.

I’ve noticed signs being posted at ball fields that read, “Welcome to Fairplay Complex. Please remember: 1) These are kids. 2) This is a game. 3) The coaches are volunteers. 3) The referees are human.”

It’s sad when we have to be reminded by Dick and Jane about how to behave.

I did give my son some advice about how to survive this ref gig, “Use your best judgment to make the call, then stand by it. Be firm, but stay calm. Engage officially, not emotionally.”

Note: This method also works well with toddlers.

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