Tag Archives: official

The Inverse Relationship Between Age and Anger

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Angry Hulk

I remember being a pretty angry kid. I had a short fuse and if something did not go my way I would often erupt. Martial arts and lacrosse lengthened my anger fuse because I realized that I did not perform well when I was angry. I couldn’t focus on my next move because my mind was fixated on some slight from twenty seconds earlier. This didn’t mean that I lost my anger, but I did learn to channel it into a productive, rather than destructive, force.

As an official I am required to be emotionless. This is a complete impossibility but most people will forgive an official for showing some emotion during a game so long as that emotion is not anger. Coaches, players and parents are allowed to get angry but officials cannot show how pissed off they may be during a game. Once we show anger on the field we are screwed because in that moment we’ve been brought down to the same fighting level as the coach, player or parent we are addressing. At that point the battle is lost for the official. To combat this personally I’ve spent several years working on keeping a calm face in the storm of vitriol that can fly out of the mouths of angry people.

In my years involved with lacrosse as an arbiter of the rules who does not have any stake in any game that I officiate, I’ve found an interesting inverse relationship. An inverse relationship is when something decreases when something else increases or visa versa. In officiating lacrosse I’ve come to believe that parent anger is inversely proportional to player age. The younger a particular team the greater likelihood that angry parents will follow, while older players bring out the parental wrath less often.

Inverse Relationship

This is relationship is not causal. It is merely a correlation that I’ve found is correct more often than not. It has been my experience, shared across many officials that I work with, that youth games can be difficult to work because of the adult coaches and parent spectators. Take them out of the equation and most of the players have a grand time, but younger teams generally have a greater chance of some adult losing their mind during a game.

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I do not have children. I cannot imagine how stressful and frustrating it is for a parent to watch their child take a big hit in a game and the officials not catch it. I can understand the anger a parent can have on the sideline when something big is missed because I get angry when I see officials miss a big illegal hit. What I do not understand is why a parent would yell vulgarities at a fifteen year old official during a 10-1 game for a missed offsides violation when that parent’s team happens to be winning.

I’ve met a lot of parents in my travels around the Southeast and the vast majority are great people who just want to enjoy the nice day. These are the parents that applaud when my crew and I kick out an angry instigator. I’m writing about the 1% of parents/coaches that get 100% of the news coverage because they act horribly.

If you are going to get angry about something get angry about missed safety violations. Then count to ten or do whatever you need to do to get a clear head and find a more rational way to get your point across. Talk to the coach after the game, write to the league administrator or official’s assignor, but don’t waste your energy on fruitless angry pursuits that will land you with a suspension, a possible court date, and a prime spot on your local news show.

For a very in-depth look at the physiological responses to getting angry check out this post: Mad = Angry + Crazy + Dumb – by Leon F. Seltzer Ph.D.

Cheers,
Gordon

 

 

 

No Mercy!

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no-mercy

I’m reffing yet another game at yet another summer tournament. One U11 team is clearly superior to their opponent and the score quickly becomes one-sided. Yet the entire coaching staff of the leading team, led on by their head coach, repeatedly yells out “No Mercy!” after every goal they score. In what would eventually be a 15-2 beating these outbursts got old really quick. From what I could tell this behavior started with the head coach. He was the first to start yelling out “No Mercy!” and was quickly followed by his assistant coaches, who were then followed by the players on the bench. Everyone on the dominating team was thoroughly enjoying their epic victory.

Maybe my years as an official help me maintain a level of cool when I’m on the sidelines coaching, but that isn’t the core reason. If I behaved like a child during a youth game my dad would pull me out of the game and park my behind on the bench. He was acting like an adult while the coaches in my summer tournament game were acting like children. Winning wasn’t enough for these thirty to forty-five year old men. They needed to humiliate their opponent while on the road to victory.

After hearing all I cared to hear during the first half I told the head coach at halftime that the next time I heard “No Mercy!” I would issue a conduct foul on his team. He seemed perplexed when I gave him my ultimatum, but I was even more perplexed. I was struggling to understand why I, a twenty-five year old, had to explain to a forty-five year old that screaming “No Mercy!” when their team is up by ten goals is distasteful in a game with eight, nine and ten year olds.

It has been my experience that kids naturally gloat over one another. Most of the time it is good-natured ribbing, but sometimes an adult needs to step in and explain to the kids involved that there is a line that should not be crossed when you are the better player or on the better team. Kids need to learn that how you win is far more important that just winning. Mariano Rivera is finishing his last season with the Yankees. He has been a dominate closer for his entire career, and he wins with class. A-Rod, on the other hand, is a very accomplished baseball player but is now forever tarnished by PED usage. Both are winners, but Mo is the one who will be remembered fondly.

I can’t stand adult coaches acting like children in youth games. I am constantly amazed that the parents of these players even stick with the program when this behavior is evident, but their team is winning so what is the harm really? The harm is that when these kids get to high school I repeatedly send them to the box for unsportsmanlike behavior. They never learned to win with class as youngsters and they bring an overinflated view of themselves into high school ball.

If you’re unfamiliar with the featured image above go watch the original Karate Kid. You can yell “No Mercy” all you want, but eventually someone is going to out work you while you were spending all your time coming up with new insults.

Bow To Your Sensei!
Gordon

Keep Calm

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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:

refs-bad-calls

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.

Cheers,
Gordon