Yesterday, Robert in the West Virginia office was out because his daughter has a state softball tournament. My practice administrator will be out a portion of next week because her son has a regional baseball tournament. They won the state tournament last week. It’s that time of year.
I start the blog out with tournament discussion because it seems apropos for the blog today. (The fact that I worked “apropos” into the blog today makes me feel like the rest of the blog is a bit anti-climatic… but I digress)
During law school, I refereed (refereed looks wrong to me, so I looked it up. It still looks odd!) basketball for some extra income. To officiate a junior varsity basketball game, I would get paid $28. For a varsity game, it was $46. It felt like easy money and I was getting exercise. I truly enjoyed it.
On Saturday mornings, I would also referee for a youth league that started at 8 years of age, and each game/hour moved up one year in age. By the last game, 12-year-olds were playing some semblance of basketball by the rules.
They were paying $10 per game. By afternoon, they were handing me a check for $50. A lot of exercise and a lot of verbal abuse from parents. Sometimes during the games, I would be laughing hard enough at the yelling that I could barely blow the whistle. These parents hollered more than a varsity or high school championship.
How many times can you call traveling on an 8 or 9 year-old? Plus, I guess some vocal parents don’t think it’s funny when the ball goes sailing out of bounds and you look at the screaming parent and say, “I am doing my best. I am blind in one eye and can’t see out of the other. If I had one good eye, I’d be a Cyclops.” Yes, no place for humor!
Which leads me to news from South Carolina. (WTKR) There, they are instituting new rules for youth sports. No cheering, no jeering’: Over zealous parents will get two warnings. If they continue to yell a third time, they’ll be kicked out.
The State’s youth soccer association is calling it “Silent September” because they say that it’s getting harder to find people willing to officiate and be yelled at for $20 per hour.
As one of the association’s representatives noted, “As a spectator, having a son that also plays in the state leagues, I understand that it is going to be different and it not going to have the same feel.” They are trying to show that they are there for the kids, not for the parents.
I wonder if this is the start of something new in youth sports or taking it too far? The sounds of players on the field… and the crickets on the sideline. It will seem quite different without the hollering and heckling. I guess no one on the sideline can say, “Hey Ref, you are missing a good game!”
And for pic o’ day, this might be a reminder that we are creating our own limitation?