Play Ball!

The high school football season has started here. Both the high schools in our town play their games in the local college stadium. As I drove past the college football grounds this week, I saw two high school teams getting ready to play, and four striped shirt referees walking onto the field. I thought immediately of my father.

My dad officiated high school baseball, basketball, football, and volleyball for 68 years. He absolutely loved it. He umpired his last high school baseball game at the age of 88 in the Metrodome. Once, he started having chest pains during a baseball game in Iowa between Cherokee and Sheldon. Since it was the last game of the season, he didn’t want to call the game, so he downed eight nitroglycerin tablets and hoped for the best. The next day he had cardiac bypass surgery.

The rules for sports are fairly clear cut. The rules for human relationships off the field are not. I despise mediating. I refuse to provide marital counseling. I just can’t be that kind of referee.

When have you had to referee or mediate? Ever had any beefs with a sports official? Ever been thrown out of a game?

47 thoughts on “Play Ball!”

  1. my kids are spread out by 15 or so years so i was a sports parent at school level for 30+ years actually i still am my youngest daughter hopes ultimate frisbee season happens this year if it does i’ll go watch her play

    ultimate frisbee is the best sport ever, the athletes themselves are the referees. there are teams that are in your face somewhat but most are very respectful and fair it’s a cool sport that is like soccer with a frisbee kind of

    i was coach for baseball basketball and soccer for little kids teams it was great i guess i coached older boys basketball too . i enjoyed it

    mediation not too much but i have been thrown out of a game or two for making comments to uppity umpires about terrible calls or by calling out and drawing attention to the stuff you see happening right in front of you.
    i had to sit on my chair outside the field so the umpire could make bad calls without my being there to tell him what i thought

    if you’re going to be a ref umpire mediator i guess you expect people to honor your ruling

    sometimes i can’t

    when you’re simply wrong

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I would do what you do and get thrown out Tim.
      I don’t play or watch sports. I hate sports. Thank God my son seems to as well.
      I’ve been thrown out of pubs though.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. A good friend of ours, in his drinking days when he was an oil field worker, got thrown out of every bar in Sidney, Montana in one night. Now he is an Addiction Counselor.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. There were probably about 8 bars in Sidney at that time. Our friend was kind of proud of his accomplishment. He is also really glad to be sober!

          Liked by 3 people

    2. Thinking more about it, Tim, I’m guessing there are going to be gung-ho parents, and maybe partisan refs, in the school sports world. I can see there’s likely to be a lot to get incensed about. And I definitely would get incensed.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was excited when I learned that there is a profession for mediators. After all, our world is filled with conflict. Wouldn’t it be cool if some folks developed expertise at resolving conflict?

    Alas, it doesn’t seem to work that way. I’ve seen several cases where mediators resolved labor conflicts and others where mediators stepped in when cops misbehaved. I have yet to see a case where the mediation was acceptable to either side. When used to reduce police misconduct, mediation always seems to favor the police, even when the misconduct was atrocious.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A fair mediation, ideally, would be one that is acceptable to both sides, but if it’s not acceptable to either side, that is probably also a good indication that it is fair.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My inner sports referee comes out if I ever try to work with unhappy couples, and I want to blow a whistle and tell whoever is being unreasonable to knock it off and grow up.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My morning ritual involves reading a long set of internet posts, and the best part of each morning for me is reading Carolyn Hax, the advice columnist for the Washington Post. She is so smart, so funny and so difficult to predict. She tries to be sympathetic to people who write seeking advice, but she doesn’t hesitate to blow the whistle to point out the fallacies some people use to excuse bad conduct. I test myself by trying to guess what her response will be to people’s complaints, but her actual responses are always wiser and more fun than what I come up with.

      I’d be a terrible marital counselor because time after time when I hear couples squabbling it is perfectly clear to me the woman is right and her spouse is a lazy hypocrite. Men! I don’t know how anybody gets along with them!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I read her, too, though not necessarily as part of a morning routine. In addition to CH’s response to the various problems presented to her, I find the comments of her readers very interesting, too. She appears to have a dedicated bunch of followers who, much like the baboons, are not shy about voicing their opinions, and who have developed a relationship amongst themselves.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I seem to attract mediation opportunities – I have done something like mediation between my folks and sister, between a couple of Husband’s sisters, between two friends… usually not a one-time encounter, but conversations over a period of time. Sometimes successful, sometimes not so much.

    My only connection with sports officials is that when my dad watched football on TV, he would say he had to go and “officiate”. He did a fine job. : )

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I was in little league for a year or two and had to go to some high school football games when I was in the marching band (but quit band because I hated marching). Other than that, I have no personal experience with sports. My daughters, however, were both involved in sports, one with swimming and one with gymnastics, so we spent a lot of time on the bleachers at their meets. I was there for one specific reason and that was to support my kids. The outcome of the events made no difference to me.

    There was one instance where I got into contact with officials concerning a sports-related incident and that was when my daughter’s high school swimming coach was removed from their team. He was admittedly a little goofy but the girls liked him. He apparently had refused to write a recommendation for one of the teams best swimmers (I don’t know exactly why but judging from some of the garbled written communications he issued, he may have been dyslexic.) Apparently the parents of this student were looking for an athletic scholarship for their daughter. The mother of this girl was extremely pushy and entitled and also a friend of the district superintendent of schools. Somehow through her friend she engineered the dismissal of this coach from the girl’s, but not the boy’s swim team.

    A group of parents of girl swimmers were upset by this injustice. I called the superintendent’s office to demand a meeting between her and the parents group. A spokesperson for the superintendent tried to handle my call but I told her I hadn’t called her, I called the superintendent and insisted on speaking to her personally.

    I asked the superintendent to explain why the coach had been removed and she gave me some vague response that he was unsuitable. I asked her, since he apparently wasn’t unsuitable as a boy’s coach, if she was alleging some sort of sexual impropriety, which she quickly denied. (I think she understood how easily that could become the basis for legal action). I made a transcription of the phone call and passed it on to an attorney that was working with the coach.

    We had our meeting, in which the parents were able to express their sense of outrage and unfairness at the actions taken against the otherwise well-liked coach. It didn’t do any good in reinstating the coach but it was satisfying in that it put the superintendent on notice that she couldn’t expect to act with impunity. She moved on to another district a year later.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Kelly’s brother is very sports minded; he’s got 6 boys and 4 of them are potential baseball stars. He’s coached basketball and baseball. He’s always on the road and I have no idea how he does it.
    I’ve said before, I can’t pay attention long enough to watch sports. Even our son and watching him play lacrosse. Watching, watching, watching… there goes a red car. Look at that hawk. And the crowd cheers. I have no idea what’s going on.

    Leaving a lacrosse game one day and one fan was trying to pick a fight with the ref who was walking away. Eventually the ref stopped and they got in each others faces. I stepped between and didn’t really know what to do, but with a few last verbal accusations, they went separate ways. I don’t think I’ve ever been thrown out of anything… I’ve left a few places in a huff; does that count?

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Last year I fondly remembered the days when I could walk off a job. I met Jane and had to be responsible. Many, many times I’d like to have walked off transport jobs(preferably not when I was hundreds of miles from home.) But I couldn’t. Now I’m retired, and things are different. What fun it was when I used to do that, I thought. Soon afterwards, I was helping Gary, and everything seemed to be my fault today. I thought, you know what, I don’t need this. One more word, I’m going to be gone. Go on, say it, I thought. Please. Say it. Of course, he said it. More than one word. I was so happy. I was out of there, and went home and told Jane what I’d done. Meanwhile Gary send a petulant text to Jane, saying things about me, to which neither of us responded in the slightest. Ever.
        And it should have been fun. I just forgot that I’d get so mad that it spoiled the fun.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Don’t know if it’s lack of bandwith or what, but the connection between my eyes and brain is simply not fast enough for me to process what I’m seeing and feel confident about it in a lot of those circumstances.

      Remember “the good old days” in tennis when Jimmy Connors or John McEnroe would have an absolute hissy fit over what they perceived as a bad call? Guess they’ve finally solved that problem with cameras and instant replay.

      Liked by 5 people

    1. Wow she said she’d do it. She’s busy and I thought I’d have to remind her. She loves this record, uninfluenced by me.
      I hitchhiked two hundred miles to see Gene at the Marquee in Soho (London). I got there in the afternoon so went to find the place straight away, to make it easier later. There was a very small notice on the door, saying Gene was ill and wouldn’t be appearing. So I turned round and hitchhiked home. Gene went home too, he up and died on me. But I’ve still got this on 45 to listen to.

      Liked by 4 people

    1. My dad would umpire 4H softball on occasion. He coached mostly, but would umpire when needed. With Louie Reiter and the Dresser Valley kids. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  7. This wasn’t deliberate. I didn’t realise Jane’s blog, which I’ve never seen before, would be available just by pressing her user name. I don’t think she did anything deliberately. Feel free to look at it. There are things there that I knew about, and some I didn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I spent a little time perusing Jane’s blog, and I liked what I saw. Looks like she’s an old hand at blogging, and has quite a few followers. Nice job, Jane.

    Liked by 3 people

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