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Friday, October 25, 2013



It doesn't take long into a basketball season before you hear that familiar phrase. In fact, maybe you're even the one saying it! But maybe, like us, we're just the ones hearing it. Really hearing it. And it was directed towards my husband! And I didn't like it! At all!

This week was our annual elementary tournament. Several teams come to our large gym, they turn the court into two smaller courts with side goals that come down. The referees are locals - like my husband, brother-in-law, a few teachers, and a few high school basketball players. Strictly volunteers. No pay, just glad to help out the local school and visiting schools.

It didn't take long before fans (and coaches) were yelling about the calls they did make or they didn't make. They were even talked about on a small town radio station! Now before you think they really were that bad, consider that these kids are 5th and 6th graders, maybe some 4th graders. Many, if not most of them, have never played much basketball before and they're still learning the game. They're learning to dribble, to pass, to guard, to shoot, to be in the right places at the right times. And for many, at least in our town, they just finished football and went to basketball maybe two weeks ago. Not very long for practicing in their short gym period and with so many students.

Here are a few things we heard, and mine and my husband's thoughts about them afterwards:

1. Call it both ways!
What the fan really means is call it MY way. If the calls were all in his/her favor, he/she wouldn't be yelling!

2. They're walking! They're fouling! They're doing.......whatever!
Yes, they are some times. Both teams are. Look really closely and you'll notice. But, they did call it when it was bad...just not the occasional.

3. You need to call everything!!
Really? There were two teams playing at a time, starting at 4:00 and ending about 8:00. If EVERYTHING was called, it wouldn't have been over until midnight. Really. Again, what the fan means is call everything on THEM.

4. Didn't you see that?
No. Probably not. You are a ways from the action and usually up in the stands, so it's easier for you to see it than it is for a ref who can't look at everything. He/She must look at the play/action where the ball is. One of them may be back a ways, but then the offense may be blocked from their view.

5. Come on, REF!
You know what? If you really feel like the refs are that bad, why don't you become a ref yourself and make the system better! This more for paid/professional refs, of course....not the volunteers at an elementary tournament.

If you're a fan, please open your eyes to TRULY see everything that is going on. Don't look only at the other teams' offenses, but at your own. Open your mind, as well. And maybe, for once, don't open your mouth! Ha! Ha! Remember, little ones are listening to you. They're watching your example. When you yell rude things, they'll learn to do the same. And sometimes it isn't just parents, it's grandparents!

And remember, little Johnny may not grow up to be the greatest basketball player in the world. But if he's your son/daughter, grandson/granddaughter, the most important thing you can do is to be there. Even if they only sit on the bench.

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