The phrase I hate the most when I officiate is when a coach, player or fan yells, “are you kidding me?” No, I am not kidding you. In fact, I am completely serious. I called a penalty and that is the end of the discussion. A coach or person affiliated with a team is likely to say “are you kidding me” at least one time during the regular season. I can almost guarantee it because there is going to come a point when that person just cannot accept a particular call or no call. So they yell out in frustration. I understand their frustration, but I still don’t like the phrase.
That phrase irks me because it implies that I am not taking my job seriously. The person making that comment probably thinks that I just show up, throw on a striped shirt, and make calls whenever I feel like it. That person does not know that I:
- Read the rulebook multiple times before the season and almost every day during the season
- Run in the offseason so I can keep up with the players who get faster every year
- Spend hours in the classroom teaching and being taught the intricacies of officiating lacrosse
- Buy two new hats and two new flags every season so I look the part of a professional official
- Take meticulous notes after my games detailing how I felt I did and what I need to work on for my next game
- Call up my officiating friends and discuss weird rule situations so we all know what to do when something strange happens in our next game
- Show up an hour early to every one of my games
- Make calls based on safety and advantage/disadvantage. Nothing more.
- Do not care who wins or loses
- Want the game safe and fair
These are some of the things that I do and believe in, which I believe makes me a competent official. Many of my officiating colleagues in this state and across the country do similar things to prepare and be at their very best come game time. We put in hours of work behind the scenes so we can provide a quality product. To everyone who says, “are you kidding me?” I suggest taking an officiating class and stepping onto the field. Every new official that I have ever worked with says the exact same thing – “This is much harder than it looks.” It is hard to do, but the rewards are great if you put in the effort to become as good as you can be.