Sports Fans, after being asked to post a blog on this website I was reluctant to say yes, however I felt I owed it to my fellow officials to give an inside look at what a sports official goes through on a day to day, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. I have been involved in sports since the age of 6 years old, which means I have 47 years experience to draw from when I speak about sports. I have played most sports in someway or another whether in competition or as a hobby. I have coached youth sports for 15 plus years and even middle school and high school basketball and baseball in the 80's, and have been a sports official for over 25 years. I have held numerous positions in our high school official's association including President, Vice-President and Booking Agent for over 12 years, I have played on Teams that have won State Titles, County Championships, and have won personal awards on teams, and in sports officiating on the local and state level. I have always been a very competitive person and have always tried to win or compete at the highest level possible, sports have been and always will be a huge part of my life. The biggest role that sports has played in my life is the friends that I have made and the life long lessons that I have learned and keep learning each day. So, that is just a little background of what I have done where I have been and what I have experienced so let's get to the "blog".
The life of a high school sports official is like a roller coaster ride, full of nervousness, excitement, anticipation, fear, triumph and dissapointment. Most High School sports officials, officiate the particular sport that they either played, coached or loved as a child. Most officials have full time jobs that they do each day and also families that depend on them spiritually, financially and emotionally. They do this because they "LOVE" the sport and still want to be part of a "TEAM". Over the past several years sports official's numbers are declining at an alarming rate, you may ask "why", and here are some obvious reasons. Lack of respect of authority from "players", "coaches" and mostly "fans". Age and "wear and tear" on their bodies and "mental stress". Lack of pay and the time factor is also some of the major reasons that sports officials are not signing up or retiring in large numbers. So, you may ask how that will effect my "team" or my "sport"? This is just my opinion, I believe, due to the lack of sports officials, games will eventually be reduced, rescheduled or will have to be played on different nights or will have to be moved to a different location and have multiple games at the same site. Young adults who do want to get into sports officiating usually start in youth sports and very rarely ever decide to continue to advance due to the reasons i discussed earlier, or they do it as supplemental income during college enrollment then drop out after they graduate and get a job and do not need the income any longer. The best officials are 25 years old with 25 years experience, sadly to say those officials are few and far to be found. Officials are "HUMAN BEINGS", but yet when they take the court or field they are expected to be perfect and get better as the game progresses. I have yet to meet a sports official that wants to be "horrible", "pathetic", and "biased" as they are often called by fans and "coaches", folks they just want to call a "game". Most officials want to be unnoticed during the game, but sometimes the players actions or coaches actions make them noticeable. Angles, officials in every sport have specific mechanics on where to stand due to the situation they are in at a particular time during the game, sometimes the positioning they are in puts them at a disadvantage of having the best angle, you have obstructions such as players, poorly lighted fields and other surroundings that obstruct their vision such as sideline participants such as in "football". The main objective of an "official" is to get the call "right", sometimes if a "mistake" is made the rules do not give them a way to re-do the play, they just have to continue as if nothing happened and bare the brunt of the criticism. How many times have you heard the phrase" the officials" cost us the "game"? Well I have officiated over 25 years and to be honest I have never heard the phrase an "official won us" the game, think about it!!! When I hear a statement like that several things come to my mind. so, the other team did nothing during the game that helped them "win" the game? How many field goals, free throws, strike outs, missed shots or intercepted passes did your team have? How many coaching mistakes was made? Yes, officials do make mistakes no doubt, but so do players and coaches however in most cases the officials are criticized for one call if its at the end of a close game. High School sports is an exstention of the class room, teachers that are coaches would never act in their classroom like not many, but some do during a game. They would not put up with parents screaming and yelling at them neither would principals, but yet it is allowed during a high school sporting event directed at officials from fans, coaches and sometimes players.Friends, we are handicapping these kids by giving them a reason to loose, it was the coaches fault, it was little johnny's fault, the officials cost us the game. I am sure you have either heard it or said it yourself, but we have to congratulate the winner on their victory, work harder on our mistakes as players, coaches and officials and realize its just a "GAME".
In 2009 my dad was diagnosed with "dementia" it's one of the most horrible diseases known to us, it absolutely degrades the person that has it and places a tremendous amount of stress and pressure on the family's of the person that suffers from this dreaded disease. My father died June 24th, 2016 he was 82 years old, he introduced me to sports as a young child by me being with him at every game he played, and spending time with me in the backyard honing my skills no matter what sport I played. During the 7 years he suffered with this disease I tried my best to continue living my life as usual, but knowing each day it would become more difficult to do under the circumstances, but I know he would have wanted me to do that exact thing. During that time I continued to officiate baseball/softball, football and basketball and I also served as president, vice-president and booking agent which takes up alot of time in communication with coaches and officials trying to get the games covered. Without my wife and daughter's blessing I could have never continued to officiate and I think most people lose sight of the fact that officials have family's and when they hear criticism of their loved one over a "game" it really affects them in a negative way. So, on a normal day it would start around 5 am I would get up pack my uniform which usually took 45 minutes depending what sport I was officiating at the time, I would got to work and usually work till 3:30 pm rush to the game, or rush home to change. In most cases missing lunch or supper just to make it to the site on time. Once the games start there is not to much down time for meals or rest room breaks, it's non-stop. Most nights it would be between 9:30-10:00 pm before I returned home, once I returned home I got to visit with my wife for about 30 minutes, eat and wash and dry my uniform and repeat this each day and night except Wednsday's and Sunday's, however those was meetings and church days or nights. Along with just officiating the games I was responsible to provide officials to normally 8-10 sites with multiple games which in itself a full time job, and also provide meeting materials for the officials on Wednsday's and Sunday's. On top of this busy schedule I had to tend to my mother and father's needs by doing things around their home, helping with their finances and just being a "Son". This was my story for 7 years, each official has their own story of what they do to just officiate a game and also living through life's obstacles. Have you ever been to a game and the officials not show up? Usually you see a coach or a park director become nervous and start calling to find out when or if they had official's assigned to their games, and I guess there was not too many volunteer's to officiate the games!!! In closing I just want to say if "Fans", "Coaches", and "Officials" do not learn to respect each other, our children will never learn to respect authority.
So, the next time you want to degrade an official, verbally or physically above all remember there are laws that protect them, and remember your setting the example for your children. Enjoy the games this year, cheer for your team, let the "coaches coach", the "players play" and the "officials officiate"
Good Luck Broncos,