Tag Archives: complain

Keep Calm

Published by:

Keep Calm

Chris Dymski at MindTheCrease.com wrote a good article entitled “3 Tips to Help Deal With Bad Refs.” I read the article from a referee’s perspective and I agree with almost all of his conclusions. His overall thesis is to stay calm throughout the game and deal with whatever gets thrown at you without losing your cool. Also he posted one of the most hilarious graphics I’ve ever come across about officiating in general:


Now, I said I agreed with almost all of his conclusions. I disagree with his reasoning for his third tip: Bees With Honey. Chris writes that goalies should be nice to the game officials because at some point there will be a close play at the crease with a score. Chris believes that the official may think, “‘that goalie is a punk, I’m not helping him out. Goal stands.’” Conversely, if the official likes the goalie he will make the crease call and wave off the goal. When I played the game I thought that refs played favorites. When I became an official I realized that it is darn near impossible to do so.

Are there some refs out there that make decisions based on whether or not they like a particular player or team? I am sure there are, but the vast majority of officials in all sports just want the call to be right. For example I had an early-round playoff assignment this past season. I knew the coaches on both teams very well, which tends to happen in a sport that is a tight-knit as lacrosse. The game went into overtime and I threw a flag on a player who I had coached and reffed since he started playing in middle school. Fact is, I didn’t have a choice in the matter. He pushed his opponent into the penalty box from behind. The player was launched onto the ground, out of bounds, and lost the ball. I had three really good reasons to throw the flag so I threw it. It never occurred to me to not throw the flag because I liked this player. He fouled, end of story.

All that being said, there is a grain of truth in Chris’ third tip. I am always looking for allies on the field. Usually I am looking at the goalies or the captains to be those allies. The ones who are polite, respectful, and sportsmanlike will always get my ear if they need to tell me or ask me something. These are the players I use to communicate things to their amped up coach or a hotheaded teammate. I find it more than a little amusing that some eighteen year old can have more composure during a game than a forty-five year old.

So what have we learned? All of Chris’ tips have value, and while I may disagree with a part of his reasoning it never hurts to be nice to an official, but just because you may be a pain to deal with we are not going to intentionally make a call against your team.


Arguing With Yourself

Published by:

Arguing with game officials is as American as apple pie. In the 1950’s “Kill the Umpire” was released. This comedy follows ex ball player Bill Johnson who, after losing various jobs in favor of watching baseball games, decides to become an umpire. A person he considers the “lowest of the low” (www.imbd.com). In multiple scenes, brawls break out on field because of his unpopular calls. It takes the blessing of a respected player to calm the fans down until Bill makes another unpopular call.

Play Count the Veins in Coaches Head

Play Count the Veins in Coaches Head

Old movies aside, my few years as a zebra bring me to two conclusions. One, I am going to make 50% of the fans angry 100% of the time. Two, coaches who argue with me never get the call reversed or changed. How well could a game progress if every call was overturned because a coach was unhappy about it? We would spend more time talking than the players would play! Still, there are a few things coaches can do to get their point across to an official, but first we need to go over when you can debate a call:

  1. Judgement Call – Rule 7.13.1 firmly states that “the head coach may not debate a judgment call” (NFHS rulebook). This means if the referee felt the hit was unnecessary then the hit was unnecessary. No debate may take place in these situations.
  2. Misapplication of Rule – If a head coach believes an official misapplied the rule he may call for a 7-13 conference. During this conference the head coach asks for clarification on how the rule was applied. For instance, an official calls a slash on the opposing team and reports the penalty as a 30-second foul. The head coach of the fouled team should request a 7-13 conference and ask the official, “Sir, a slash is a personal foul and I believe that is a 1-minute penalty, and not a 30-second penalty.”

Now that we covered those scenarios lets dive into some Do’s and Don’ts:

  • Don’t
    • Call an official “you.” I’m serious “you” is the ultimate no-no when addressing an official. For example, “you are absolutely terrible.” Compared to: “Mr. Official you are terrible today.” The second version expresses your point in a way that respects the official’s position on the field.
    • Curse. There is no place for cursing in lacrosse, especially youth lacrosse. Review the language post for more info on this subject.
    • Run onto the field of play. Coaches remain in the coaching box for the duration of the game. The playing field is the domain of the players and officials only.
    • Complain about a barely there ward, moving pick, or push. All you do is prove to the official that you are more interested in getting one tiny call that is insignificant when viewed from the perspective of an entire game. If the official does not call the small stuff he is doing it for both teams. I assure you.
    • Attack the official’s integrity. How would you like it if I swung by your office tomorrow afternoon and berated your personal failings as a human being in front of your co-workers? Leave the personal attacks at home and focus on their performance only.
    • Lastly, when your team is up by ten goals you no longer get to complain about anything other than a safety issue.
  • Do
    • Call the guy in stripes “Mr. Official, sir, or Mr. Last Name.”
    • Politely phrase all your comments. For instance, “Mr. Official can you explain why that call was made?” Compared to: “Get over here right now and explain how in the world you made that call.”
    • Calm your assistant coaches down. Rule 2.3.1. states that “only the head coach will communicate with the officials” (NFHS rulebook). Most officials will answer questions posed by the assistant coaches, but as far as the rules are concerned the assistant coaches have zero right to enter into an argument/debate with an official.
    • Wait 24 hours and submit questions, complaints, or concerns to rules@ayllax.com.

Even if you follow all of the do’s and don’ts, you will still run into an official who will not change his mind. Take solace in the fact that he will not change his mind for the other coach either. Recognize this situation early and you can avoid arguing with yourself for the entire game.

Casey at Bat

Casey at Bat

Still don’t believe that arguing with officials is as American as apple pie? In 1888, Ernest Thayer wrote “Casey at Bat.” I read this poem back in elementary school and I am amazed at how the fans are portrayed. Read the poem and enjoy some nostalgia.

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;
The score stood four to two with but one inning left to play;
And then, when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go, in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which “springs eternal in the human breast;”
They thought, If only Casey could but get a whack at that,
We’d put up even money now, with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn procede Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a no-good and the latter was a fake;
So, upon that stricken multitude grim meloncholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey’s getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despised, tore the cover off the ball,
And when the dust had lifted and men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second, and Flynn a-huggin’ third.

Then from five thousand throats and more threr rose a lusty yell,
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell,
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face,
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the croud could doubt `twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tounges applauded as he wiped them on his shirt.
Then, while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there,
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped —
“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one,” the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm waves on a stern and distant shore.
“Kill him; kill the umpire!” shouted someone from the stand;–
And it’s likely they’d have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Strike two.”

“Fraud,” cried the maddened thousands, and the echo answered “Fraud,”
But one scornful look from Casey, and the multitude was awed.
The saw his face grow stern and cold; they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip; his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

Oh! somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville — mighty Casey has Struck Out.

Are you as amazed as I am that a poem read to children has the message “kill the umpire” embedded in the text? The best part about the poem is that Mighty Casey never argued the call. Despite striking out, he was still a great sport about it.

Featured Image Credit – www.masnsports.com

Your Out!

Make Your Coach Like You

Published by:

I received the best piece of advice on how to be coached after two years of playing lacrosse:

“It does not matter if you like the coach. It does matter if the coach likes you.”

This is an interesting lesson to learn at 11 years old. What do you mean I have to make the coach like me? I’m young and generally cheerful how can I possibly not be liked? Well there are a few reasons that I will list for you and I am guilty of committing all of them:

  1. No hustle in practice – At the very least jog to where you need to be. Nothing bugs a coach more than waiting to start a drill because everyone is walking to the huddle.
  2. Complaining and/or whining – Every player will someday say these words: “I’m tired. This is hard. When is practice over? When do we get to do something fun?” As a youth coach hearing these words is the exact equivalent of one hundred tiny monkeys crawling over my head armed with miniature icepicks, which they repeatedly jam into my head. If you are going to gripe do it out of earshot of the coach.
  3. Being Late – Parents this applies to you as well as the youth players. Lateness disrupts a practice plan, especially if multiple players are late. Get into the habit of showing up five minutes early for practice because your high school coach will not take pity on you or your teammates. I have run far more wind sprints than I care to remember for late teammates.
  4. Asking when you get to go into the game – The entire reason players practice is to play, but if there are twenty-two kids on a team twelve will sit on the bench at any given time. Nothing makes me want to keep a kid on the pine more than hearing “Coach, I haven’t gotten in yet.” Players, trust that your coaches at the youth level will make every effort to keep playing time as equal as possible, but occasionally he will forget. Remind him politely at halftime. If you still don’t get in for the rest of the game find me, or an AYL Staff member, and we will make sure you get in.
  5. I forgot my _____ – In ten years of attending practice I forgot my helmet once and my stick once. I understand forgetting equipment occasionally. Do not make forgetting your gear a habit. If it happens once a season, then fine. If it happens every other practice I will eventually bring duck tape to practice and I will bind the gear to your body for a week.
  6. “Dude, bro, guy, buddy” – A coach is a Coach, with a capital “C.” Or if his name is John Doe – Coach Doe. And if you forget Coach Doe’s name, saying sir never hurts. Keep the pet names for your friends.
Avoid the Angry Monkey!

Avoid the Angry Monkey!

Always remember that if you are on a coach’s good side good things will happen to you. You can stay on the good side by not complaining, hustling everywhere, and showing him respect even if you think he does not deserve it. Learn this lesson now and you will be well prepared once you tryout for your High School lax team.

Featured Image Credit – www.123rf.com