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Don the Uniform or Stop With the Complaints – Refereeing Is a Tough Thing To Do

Written by Lee Roggenburg on . Posted in .
  I wrote about an incident earlier this week about fans in the stands yelling at a timekeeper for being accurate with the clock.  It led to me to think about how to handle an issue I’ve been witnessing far too much over the four years . . . the harping, chirping and downright harassment of referees from the stands. And most of the time it takes the form of ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’. ‘Push’, ‘Shove’ . . . ‘Come On’ . . . ‘That’s not a penalty’ . . . Anyone who attends high school games hears that a lot. Usually from someone who would be gasping for breath five minutes into the game if they were trying to ref themselves. I’ve been attending games for four years now as a writer for FLN and attended games for another four before that. Only twice have I ever questioned a decision or potential judgment of a referee. The first one I actually confirmed with the SA coaching staff about whether I was right before I wrote it and they looked at the films and said yes.  It was the possibility of a last-second game tying offensive rush where they were clearly offside (there were 7 players in the offensive end as the shot was being taken and none of them were anywhere near the mid-line) and if the shot were successful it would have been a shame if the defending team lost in OT after not getting that call.  Thankfully the shot was saved and that did not become an issue. The second was at last year’s Final Four on the Girls side when I felt the officials committed the cardinal sin of all refereeing . . . making a judgment call that decided a game that had nothing to do with the actual play . . . the tossing of a star player in a 9-9 game with 5 minutes left because a seasoned referee wouldn’t walk away from a player showing emotion in the game . . . hardly something that should get one banished.  Just a bad decision at an inappropriate time when it had nothing to do with the play of the game.   Every year there are some rule changes and changes to interpretation and the parents/fans are the last to know.  Part of that is my fault . . . I should let you know in advance to make your viewing experience better.  That’s something I pledge to change for the next high school season.  We’re going to ask US Lacrosse for videos to share with the readers so they will have a much better understanding of the rules AND their INTERPRETATIONS . . . it isn’t always black and white like so many fans think they are . . . so you can better appreciate what is going on down on the field. On top of that I want to make something really clear. Refereeing a high school lacrosse game is a VERY difficult thing to do.  First of all, they do not have the benefit of height like we do in the stands.  They can get blocked out of view when we aren’t.  Don’t underestimate that factor.  They are chasing around some pretty large kids and trying to stay out of the way at the same time.  99.999% of the time they get that part right, but I’ve seen some pretty tough collisions and the ref ALWAYS gets the worst of it.  Some of these kids are fast enough to outrun a wide receiver on the football team; try staying up with them on a fast break.  Not so easy. Unless you have tried to ref this sport . . . GIVE THEM THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT.  You’ll save yourself a lot of stress.  If you have reffed you already know to do this. One thing in particular I’ve noticed.  The more tradition the high school has with the sport, the LESS complaining I hear.  The worst I hear is where the sport has started to get popular and there’s an assumption that the fans who are new to the sport seem to think they know the most.  The more experienced the fan base the more likely they understand the limitations of getting every call right. GIVE THEM THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT.  You’ll save yourself a lot of stress.   As for the first lesson for our readers, here’s a US Lacrosse video that was posted before the season started:     It’s a good starting point for a few of the rule changes, particularly the new faceoff rules, the over and back violation and what constitutes a blind side hit. One thing that many fans don’t appreciate is the effort to cut down on hard hits when the ball carrier is blind-sided or can’t protect themselves.  Two years ago that became a focal point and many fans have been slow to understand it.   Over time we will continue to bring more education on how the sport is reffed and hopefully that will cut down on the complaints in the stands and help the fans enjoy the in-game experience more.