Tag Archives: judgement

I Cannot Prevent Fouls

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Whenever I have a game with a lot of flags this comment usually gets yelled out by someone: “You’re not controlling the game ref!” I beg to differ.

The coaches and fans making that comment do not understand that I only have two additional tools at my disposal after throwing flag after flag on both teams. I can either:

  1. Ramp up the penalty minutes and start disqualifying the repeat offenders
  2. Cancel the game once I believe that the players and coaches are not getting the message from all of my flags

What non-officials do not understand is that I cannot prevent fouls. All I can really do is strongly discourage players from committing another foul. Whether or not they get the message from spending time in the penalty box is up to them. I had a coach tell me that I was not keeping his players safe from the opposing team. Despite the fact that I had thrown multiple flags and my hat on fouls the other team had committed.

I was a little confused by this coach. Did he expect me to jump in front of one of his attackman who was about to be slashed and absorb the blow? Perhaps he wanted me to tackle one of the opposing players before they had a chance to hit one of his players. He was still pissed off at me at the end of the game even though the other team spent almost the entire game with someone in the penalty box.

What frustrates me the most is after I call a penalty, usually an Illegal Body Check for a late hit after a shot, sometimes one coach will tell his player kneeling in the box that it was a great hit. It wasn’t a great hit! That’s why I flagged it! Coaches that congratulate players on a body check that levels another player when the ball is twenty yards away undermine the called penalty.

One coach yelled at me, “How can you possibly call that? This is a contact sport!” While I did not respond to him at the time here is what I wanted to say:

  1. I can call that because I judged the hit to be illegal
  2. This is a finesse sport with contact
  3. Your player released from the penalty box, sprinted forty yards to the ball carrier, hit him from behind with the exposed metal of his crosse and managed to ride up to finish in the neck of the ball carrier

These kinds of coaches do not serve the game. I much prefer the coach who asks what I saw so he can inform his player not to repeat the infraction. That coach is working with me to keep the game safe.

Officials cannot prevent fouls. Everything we do is after the fact. I can warn a player to not do something, but I have no control over whether or not that player will listen to me. The only people who can prevent fouls are the players on the field.

Featured Image Credit – www.dailytarheel.com


Yes Sir. No Sir.

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“Manners are the happy ways of doing things; each one a stroke of genius or of love, now repeated and hardened into usage.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I remember two important things that my father taught me about manners. One, always say “yes sir” to an older man and always give a firm handshake. Among other teachings my parents hammered those two into me regularly and now it is second nature. That is what Emerson means when he says “each one a stroke of genius or of love, now repeated and hardened into usage.” My parents constantly repeated how important good manners were to a good life. Each time they corrected me to act properly they applied one stroke of love onto me. Over time I started acting in the way they expected a young man to act and my manners “hardened” with use. Now I do not even think about these actions because they are so ingrained into how I act. Still I would not be the person I am today without being able to apply these actions while I was younger.

Without sports acting as a filter for my actions I would never been able to learn the right way to act in a difficult situation. As many parents know you can only do so much watching your child on the sideline. There is always a chance that something will happen adversely to your child. This is not intended to scare anyone it is just a mention of fact. Take this example. I was playing in a tournament up north as  a midfielder on a faceoff. My friend won the faceoff quickly and ran down the field. I slowly jogged down the field to make sure that he was safe and I was about to turn around when I got smashed from behind by a midfielder looking for a cheap hit. No official saw the play but I was so angry that I started running at the player whose back was to me. I was going to do something stupid when I stopped, took a breath, and went back to the bench.

Fortunately these types of situations happen infrequently but it could have ended much differently if I decided to get vengeance against a mean spirited midfielder. Good judgement prevailed where poor judgment would have been understandable. I was able to stop myself from doing something stupid because I represent the integrity of the game whenever I step onto the field. My actions, however small, impact the perceptions of other people watching lacrosse and I try hard to never do anything that would impact it poorly.

All of this boils down to one thing: manners. Every game I’ve ever participated in has given me at least one situation where I had to use good judgement and proper manners to diffuse a problem. Whether it was a coach giving me grief over a call, a teammate getting too hotheaded, or a fan getting a little out of hand I’ve used every bit of the manners I’ve learned over the years in dealing with them.

This is the main benefit of youth sports. They allow kids to experience victory, defeat, pride, guilt, embarrassment, honor, sacrifice, pain, and trust in a controlled environment. The NCAA estimates that “eight in 10,000, or approximately 0.08 percent of high school senior boys playing interscholastic football will eventually be drafted by an NFL team.” Considering that there only six Major League Lacrosse teams compared to thirty two National Football League teams the number of lacrosse players going professional are quite low. This should not discourage players from aspiring to play professional lacrosse, I would give my left arm to play for a day, but it is meant to put perspective on youth sports and why we really want kids to play.

The reason we want kids to play sports is so they can be put in different situations that demand they act. We as adults want these young men to act properly even if they are wronged in some way. If they act honorably when faced with adversity in a youth lacrosse game we can expect them to act admirably when they face trying times as an adult.