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Be Nice to Refs

Officiating high school basketball is hard. It is a very difficult and thankless job. I give my friends in stripes a lot of credit. You see, there is a major shortage with the local PIAA circuit. I see many of the same faces each night. The poor guys are overwhelmed. Kudos, boys and girls. Thanks.

OK. I admit. I could do a lot better when it comes to my interactions with our refs. But I am improving the older I get. I used to be a total jerk. I am a very animated and spirited coach. I am obnoxious and tend to get a little loud. The opposing fans and student sections always poke fun. It’s cool. I am totally used to it by now. And I actually try to avoid these major confrontations with the refs. Mistakes happen. Coaches make them. Same with the players. Refs should also get a pass. I will occasionally question a call. It is now friendly banter. Life is too short. At the end of the night, it’s over, and I am very thankful to have many of these zebras as my chums.

I have been to many games this year, and I am appalled. The behavior towards our officials is getting lewd. Look, I get it. But please remember that it is just a game, especially at the youth and middle school levels. One missed call will not make or break your son’s or daughter’s athletic career. It should be all about learning and having fun at this level. Some people in the stands have a hard time accepting this point. They would rather bash the refs. Come on, guys.

Believe it or not. PIAA officials have had more training than most players and spectators. Their job is simple. They are to manage the game and maintain the flow. These refs always do the best they can. They have no hidden agendas. And I am totally amazed how there’s so much focus on the officials instead of the game. Some fans constantly harp on the refs. It is embarrassing. Perhaps we could spend more time teaching our kids how to respect the game. Encourage your youngsters to play hard instead of blaming the refs.

Refs are human. And again, they will certainly make mistakes. But we constantly chastise them. Folks should take responsibility for their own performance instead of passing the blame. It is never acceptable to disrespect an authority figure when you disagree. Why now is it OK to yell at the refs? Remember. Disruptive yells and sarcastic, hurtful comments should never occur.

A friend of mine gave me a TECHNICAL FOUL on the road earlier this year. Was it warranted? No. But I respected his call. Was I out of line? No. I thought my line was hilarious. He put the ball down and started to count before we came out of our huddle. It’s a rule. Yes. I was more upset at his interpretation: two shots and the ball. No worries. I wasn’t upset. I got over it almost immediately. I actually reached out the next day to apologize. I am getting soft.

I applaud all of the PIAA District 4 officials. No. This is not a plug to get more calls. These folks have a very difficult task. And the next time you yell, perhaps you should consider walking in their own black shoes. Refs are desperately needed. Please consider signing up if you think you could do better. Or maybe we should all use more compassion when we are watching them. Cheers.