Tag Archives: mistake

How Did You Miss That?

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Officials are not supposed to miss a penalty. They are also never supposed to make mistakes either. Not only are they not supposed to make mistakes, they are expected to be perfect throughout the entire game. Fans scream at coaches who sub out their favorite player. They laugh derisively when an opponent misses an easy ground ball. However, they save their scorn for the official. A person who is subject to the same amount of human error as any other person, but for the span of a game, they are expected to be omniscient and infallible.

This makes for some interesting commentary:

  • “Are you blind?”
  • “Hey ref, I’ve got your cell phone here. It says nine missed calls!”
  • “Hope your breaks work on the drive home!”
  • “Bend over and use your other eye!”
  • “Ref, if you had one more eye you’d be a cyclops”
  • “Are you even watching the game?”
  • “What? Are you getting DirecTV out there ref? Because you sure aren’t watching this game!”
  • “You’re missing a great game ref!”

Of those comments, six of them refer to the official’s sight. After all, that is a well-known officiating concept. If the ref does not see it, it did not happen. Or, if the ref does not see it, it isn’t cheating.

No one disparages an official’s sense of hearing or smell because everything an official does is based off what the official sees on the field. One big issue that many spectators ignore is that officials do not watch the entire field.

When two officials ref a lacrosse game, which we refer to as a two-man game, they split the field into “On” and “Off” sections. Depending on where the ball is on the field, one official is responsible for all the action in a particular area, while the other official looks at everything away from the play. This allows the two officials to see everything going on. Even though only one official is staring at the ball. The diagram below details the concept of “On/Off” officials.

Blue Zebra = On Official, Red Zebra = Off Official

Blue Zebra = On Official, Red Zebra = Off Official

Notice that the field is split into two rough triangles running through the crease. When the ball crosses the red line, the Red Zebra becomes the on-official, and the Blue-Zebra becomes the off-official. So when the ball carrier brings the ball behind the cage, everything happening around that ball is the responsibility of the Blue-Zebra, while the Red-Zebra looks at the five other offensive and defensive players, plus the goalie. By splitting the field in half, two officials can make sure the players away from the ball are not taking cheap shots at one another, yet still watch the action around the ball-carrier.

If you imagine the Red-Zebra next to the coaches sideline, he may be getting yelled at by coaches for something happening to the ball-carrier behind the goal. Unfortunately for the coach, the Red-Zebra is not concerned with the ball-carrier until the ball is brought into his section of the field.

The big question to this concept is why not have both refs watch the entire field? Put simply, watching an entire field is too much for any one official.

To give an example, I have officiated a few games by myself. I stand near the middle of the field and watch thirteen players on one side of the field. Only, I don’t see everything. For instance, I cannot watch the players behind my back on the other side of the field. To watch them I have to turn away from the action around the ball to ensure that two players are not engaging in an ultimate fighting competition behind me.

Even when I am watching the thirteen players in front of me, I have a greater concern for watching the ball-carrier and his defenseman. I cannot divide all of my attention to the ball-carrier and his teammates/opponents. It is simply too much for the human brain to process. Realistically, it is not possible for one or two officials to process all of the action happening on the entire field. This is why we split the field in half and have specific things we look for. It is not that we aren’t watching the game. It’s that we are watching the game in the way that best allows us to officiate it safely.

Now a quick video to show just how difficult watching action really is. I want you to let the video below load fully. When it is finished buffering, watch the entire video and follow the instructions closely. Remember, focus as intently as you would want an official to focus on your team’s game. When you are finished with the video, scroll down to the end of the post.

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Did that video blow your  mind? I hope it shows just how difficult it is to process new information when focused on a seemingly simple task. Lastly, if you have any fun ways to heckle an official/referee/umpire, please share them in the comment section below. I’m always looking for new and unique ones to add to my list, but please keep any curse words out of the comments section.

Featured Image Credit: www.myvisiontest.com

Cheers,
Gordon

A Lesson on Losing

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Losing blows. This is not earth-shattering news. Losing blows because it is the opposite of winning. In fact, the definition of losing is the “failure to win” (thefreedictionary.com). It means you were defeated, your team did not measure up, or you blew the last play. Suffice it to say, losing hurts. Which is why it is such a good thing.

One of the greatest coaches in sport’s history, Vince Lombardi, said “if you can accept losing, you can’t win” (brainyquote.com). I do not want players to accept losing, defeat, or failure. I expect them to learn from it, otherwise they will make the same mistakes each game and continue losing.

When I was in sixth grade, I lost. Time took away the plays and the final score, but I still have a memento from that game. I stripped off my gear next to the swinging chain-link gate at the side of the field. I was shaking with anger as I put my shoulder pads into my bag. I distinctly remember kneeling, then, with a giant yell, I slammed my fist down into the ground. Well, I did not hit the ground. I smashed my hand onto the one patch of concrete next to the chain-link gate.

Every angry feeling I had about the game disappeared in an explosion of pain radiating up my arm. I punched the concrete so hard that I compacted my ring and pinkie knuckles on my right hand. The kicker is I never told my parents. I just waited for a week as the swelling subsided and my hand stopped seizing up.

There are two main lessons to take from my angry pugilism. One, if you are going to hit something, avoid concrete or other really hard objects. Two, the only thing I remember about that game is that I lost. I do not remember how well or poorly I played defense. I forgot if I made good passes or dropped a lot of balls. The only lesson I ever learned from that game is to avoid hitting really hard objects.

So when you lose it is important to set anger and frustration aside. Take the emotion out of your loss for a few minutes and take stock of how the game went for you and your team. Try identifying any mistakes you made during the game, and work on correcting them for the next game.

Once you identify those mistakes go ahead and get angry. Vent, scream, let it out. Then get over it. Losing may blow, but it is only permanent if you fail to change before the next game.

Notice the Right Knuckles Compared to the Left Knuckles

Notice the Right Knuckles Compared to the Left Knuckles

Featured Image Credit – kennysilva.net

Cheers,
Gordon

A Cautionary Tale

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The summer before 7th grade I went to an overnight lacrosse camp at Georgia Tech. This was four days and three nights of no parental supervision whatsoever! Sure there were mandatory practices, but whenever I was off the field I was a free man. My camp experience was pretty typical. I made new friends, stayed up too late, and learned some lacrosse along the way. Despite the fact that I was at lacrosse camp, the main lesson I learned was about nutrition.

It all started with a dare, a double-dog dare. So there was no way I could dismiss it and leave my honor intact. Some teammates and I were eating dinner before the third and final practice of the day. We were exhausted, but we were young and playing lacrosse so we couldn’t care less. Someone created a monumental pile of cafeteria french fries as the communal fry plate. Everyone knew how much I liked french fries, so a buddy of mine bet me to eat the entire serving of fries. Keep in mind that this “serving” could feed about five people.

I agreed on the spot, knowing I had about forty-five minutes to digest everything before practice. I amassed a large amount of ketchup and chowed down. Fifteen minutes later I was certain my parents would be proud of me for I cleaned the entire plate! With the iron stomach of a 7th grader I was out the cafeteria door towards my dorm to gear up. Completely unaware of the coming disaster.

The turf was scorching. My cleats were sticking to the ground as the soles melted onto the synthetic grass. With the sun beating down, everyone was suffering, but I still felt pretty good. We practiced for about thirty minutes before the coaches decided to scrimmage. I cleared the ball up and immediately felt something inside me lurch. I clamped my mouth shut and beelined for the sideline, wretched my helmet off and upchucked every single fry I ate at dinner. I barfed, heaved, puked, regurgitated, and retched everything in my stomach until I had created my own technicolor rainbow on the turf.

Like Milk - Fries were a bad choice

Like Milk - Fries were a bad choice

Remarkably, I cleaned myself up and finished the scrimmage without too much difficulty, and I learned two very valuable lessons. First, my mom would never had let me eat that much food before a lacrosse game. Not having parental supervision at camp gave me freedom to indulge my dietary whims to my detriment. Second, I learned this lesson entirely on my own because I paid for my mistake. The beauty of overnight camps is they give kids the opportunity to screw up and learn life lessons away from their parents.

So learn from my mistake if you are going to an overnight camp this summer, and avoid eating at least one hour before a lacrosse game. Oh, one more thing, I did win the bet!

Featured Image Credit – recipes.howstuffworks.com

Cheers,
Gordon