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Old Tue Oct 26, 2004, 08:33am
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I'd like to start a discussion about how officials should handle fans. I'd like to know how you would handle the fans at the various levels of play when fan(s) is/are directing profanity at the officials. I think most of us let site administration handle the problem if they are present.

But, what do you do when there is no site admin present?

What do you do when the site administrator is also the head coach?

What do you do at pee-wee games where they aren't accountable to a state association?

What do you do when it is the site administrator who is inciting the crowd?

I just like to start a discussion on how to handle fans who are profane or inciting other fans to act in unsporting ways.

Thanks in advance!

My Edit
I'm talking about a fan/fans who are bordering on a heart attack and screaming profanity at the officials or inciting the crowd into chants that are unsporting. I'm not talking about fans who are simply complaining about calls. We all have to deal with them by ignoring them.


And I'm not trying to address my specific situation(s). I just want to get an idea of other officials' philosophy on dealing with fans.

[Edited by mikesears on Oct 26th, 2004 at 09:56 AM]
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Old Tue Oct 26, 2004, 08:41am
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Keep them away from the field, and otherwise ignore them.

Says easier than it does though, I know, especially at fields where the fans are not separated from the field of play.

If you HAVE to do something, have the coach responsible for the actions of his sideline (whomever that might include). USC on a coach is an option if he won't. We do have a local site admin who is also a coach, but he's VERY good at separating the duties. If he's not, you might have to remind him.

I can't imagine a site admin inciting a crowd - do you have an actual example? Is he also the coach? (There again, USC is an obvious option).

And if things get completely out of control (i.e. unsafe), you can always forfeit and leave - let the board handle it.
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Old Tue Oct 26, 2004, 08:50am
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Quote:
Originally posted by mcrowder
I can't imagine a site admin inciting a crowd - do you have an actual example? Is he also the coach? (There again, USC is an obvious option).
Unfortunately I do have an example from a couple of years ago. I worked (notice the past tense here) a pee-wee game where the site admin was the head coach. This pee-wee league plays 4 games starting with the youngest and going to the oldest and he was the coach for the first game (and a real jerk, too).

During the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th games, he was complaining like he was a coach and his complaining only incited the fans even more.

Hindsight being 20/20, we should have ejected him from the stadium area. We didn't do that because this league REQUIRES an administrator to be present. We felt we were there for the kids.

Needless to say, I will NEVER work for that league again. The kids have other options for participating in a youth league in the area.

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Old Tue Oct 26, 2004, 08:51am
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Always back in to your parking spot.

If things start to get out of hand and there is either unhelpful game administration or non-existant game admnistration, enlist the coach's help. You can always leave. You can always refuse to resume a game until a problem is addressed. If they want to play it without you, so be it.

At the end of the day, the parents want little Jimmy to play the game. Given the choice of no game or them cooling down, most of the time, they'll knock it off.

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Old Tue Oct 26, 2004, 10:02am
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I think sometimes we forget how much authority we have but it's a two-edge sword. If you don't use it, the situation can escalate or at least not resolve. If you do use it then you're an over-officious jerk who can't take it. I think the best course is to be very cool but very firm and businesslike, like tossing someone from a game like you were taking trash to the dumpster in your driveway.

[Edited by kdf5 on Oct 26th, 2004 at 11:04 AM]
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Old Tue Oct 26, 2004, 10:37am
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If I'm having a problem with a spectator, I'll take an official's timeout, bring the coach out to the numbers with our backs to the sideline, and in a low voice explain to him that either he or the game administration gets the parent under control, or that I'm about two more comments from declaring a forfeit and leaving the field.

Conversely, I try at every game to go to one sideline at halftime, and give my official's-needed recruitment speech: "Parents, its a great game, isn't it? Every year there is a nationwide shortage of youth sports officials, and here in ___ county, a shortage of youth football officials. If you've ever thought about getting involved in supporting a game we all love, please consider becoming an official next year. You won't make much money, but -- unlike golf -- officiating is a hobby with a positive income flow. Free training classes are provided, and both men and women can officiate, so team moms don't tell me you can't do it. Seven years ago I was a parent on a sideline, holding the chains. Five years ago I started as a youth football official, and last year I became a high school official. It's a good way to stay in shape, and most importantly to give something back to a game we all love. Let's keep this great American game going for the kids we have now, and the adults that they will become." Invariably someone will ask for the local official's group web site or a phone number.

Finally, a lot can be headed off in the pre-game talk with the coach. After the standard legally-equipped and any-trick-plays questions, I tell the coach that "there are two groups of adults that really count out here today, my officiating crew and your coaching staff. If we treat each other with professional respect, it will catch on with the kids and with the parents. If I or my crew make mistakes, take a time-out and talk to me. We can discuss rule interpretation and application. (We wont' quibble over what I or my official saw; that's non-negoioable.) We certainly won't yell at you or your staff if your team makes a mistake; please don't yell at my crew. Do you have any questions for me before we call for captains? It should a great game today, and hopefully when its over every player will had a great time, your team will have learned something about themselves through this game, and when its all over nobody even realizes that the officials were here."

Finally (since you hit my hot button and got me started) if I'm having a problem with kids helping us with making calls on the field, I'll tell them to "play, coach or ref. You only get to do one today; which one will it be?"

Hence the screenname.
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Old Tue Oct 26, 2004, 10:51am
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For the most part the fans are to be ignored as if they are not there.

The kids want to play the game at any level and our duty is on the field. If a situation occurs where the fans are disruptive, stop the game and wait for game administration to do their job.
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Old Tue Oct 26, 2004, 11:18am
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I've asked the question to that fan(s) "why are you here, to yell at me or watch your kid play. If you are here to yell at me, one of us can leave." That usually will shut them up, if they continue, you must leave. Yes we are there for the kids, however we (officials) are humans, we do not have to be treated like that.
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Old Tue Oct 26, 2004, 11:27am
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Quote:
But, what do you do when there is no site admin present?
There's always site admin present, but if their weren't I would tell the head coach to take care of it.

Quote:
What do you do when the site administrator is also the head coach?
Tell the coach to take care of it,we won't play until he does.

Quote:
What do you do at pee-wee games where they aren't accountable to a state association?
Toss 'em, site admin will back us up.

Quote:
What do you do when it is the site administrator who is inciting the crowd?
Retire.
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  #10 (permalink)  
Old Tue Oct 26, 2004, 11:33am
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If I'm having problems with a fan (little league), during a break in play I'll talk to that fan and say the following: "Sir/Ma'am, we try to promote good sportsmanship out here and right now you're being a poor example of that. Please try keep it more positive."

I say all this in a very polite manner. With some fans, that is all you have to say, with others it is not enough. If it continues, then I involve the head coach of that sideline, thus taking some of the heat off of me and onto him to keep control out there. I don't think its necessary to penalize the kids because their parent is acting that way. If it gets to the point that they are a nuisance, I would then stop the game until that person left or was escorted off the premises.

I understand some leagues (I think only in basketball) don't even permit fans at their games because its gotten to be such a problem. Its a shame that its come to that.

I think some fans seriously come to the game to yell at the officials.
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Old Tue Oct 26, 2004, 12:17pm
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Quote:
Originally posted by Simbio
...

I think some fans seriously come to the game to yell at the officials.
Yeah. I had a fan last weekend at a little league game say to me "Maybe you should go back to school." I ignored him.

What struck me was this fan was a rotund 300 pounder who probably spends most of his time with a beer in front of a TV. Consider the number of hours I spend studying the rules and in the gym conditioning to have this couch potato comment on your game.

Go back and have another beer.
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Old Tue Oct 26, 2004, 12:31pm
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I don't think we have any jurisdiction over fans --unless they are on the sidelines.
We don't really have that problem in high school.
But - some local little league and middle school games -- has been a problem.
Our city league rec. dept. ropes off an area -- for the fans to stay behind. That helps a bunch.
This is not done in other little leagues -- or even mid. schools -- but it needs to be done.
I have gone to the coach on that side and asked him to get the fans away -- or it would be a 15 yarder on his bench.
Although it may not be his fault -- it is his sideline and he's ultimately responsible. The parents are pretty willing to back up -- when they realize they could hurt their teams effort.
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Old Tue Oct 26, 2004, 12:53pm
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someones signature says I love it when they boo I think thats funny

My favorite is I call DPI (NFHS) and i hear all the fans tell me what a moron I am because the ball was uncatchable I ignore them because most dont know the rules and most want to win and never want to blame johnny or jimmy;s 4 fumbles we are an easier target
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Old Thu Oct 28, 2004, 05:27am
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During High School games this usually is not the case and does not often happen. But when it does, and I did have a case of this at a Varsity game where there were fans and or parents on the sideline where they really should not have been in the first place. Example: Team A (Home Team) playing defense, Team B has the ball. There is a hit after the whistle, my Line Judge throws the flag for a personal foul, late hit. The defensive player goes down and stays down. I go over to confer with my Line Judge, everyone on the home side wants me to eject the offending player, I ask him if the foul deserves an ejection, he says no, definitely not. I signal the penalty to the press box, by this time I have assistant coaches screaming for the offending kids head on a plate. I walk over to tell the home head coach exactly what my Line Judge told me. He of course does not agree and thinks the kid should be ejected also, by this time, the fans and or parents on the sideline are getting chippy. I see the AD and walk up to him and ask him to clear this side of the field that does not include the team box. He says he will take care of it and beckons me on my way back to the field. By this time, my Line Judge has heard enough and throws another flag, this time a sideline warning for the home side. There are only about thirty seconds left on the clock, I decide to ask the coaches if they would mind ending the game at this point so no further incidents happen. They both agree and I then call the game. During this time the AD has tried to clear his end of the field, the people see we have ended the game and start yelling at us various things I can't mention here. Basically they wanted me to eject the kid from the contest which after conferring with the ref who called the violation, said it was not necessary. By the way, the home team was winning handily at this time but we still got nothing but grief from the crowd. It goes to show you that when emotions run high, if there is no control at the field level, anything could happen. This time the AD did his job and did it well, we had no problems leaving the field and no more incidents were recorded, no one was ejected. And the home team won the game handily. Crowd control is always the responsibility of the home administrator. At the youth level, if there is no Field Marshal, it usually falls to the Head Coaches. Sorry this was so long, but I had a little to get off my chest. Thanks.
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