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Old Wed Nov 10, 2004, 07:32pm
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This past weekend I was the WH for a flag football game. For most of the season we worked with the same 3 man crew, but for some reason the league commish decided to switch things up for the last 2 games. For the very last game I get a 4 man crew including a brand new 17 year old kid who was in his first year. All game this guy blows the whistle and stops plays when he's not supposed to (illegal motions) and doesn't blow it when he needs to (defensive offsides, false starts). By midway in the 3rd quarter both coaches are screaming at me to get him off the field.

This is where things went from bad to extrememly worse and downright threatening to every ref on the field. We always start the game by telling the coaches they are responsible for their sideline conduct, including the conduct of assistant coaches, players and parents (we have no bleachers or stands so parents stand right next to the field). The coach on the side where this kid was reffing simply says to him hey can I get one flag for pushing in the back. Next thing I know the kid throws a flag on the caoch and issues a warning to him, now the caoch is going nuts on the sideline. The next thing I know my umpire throws a flag and says that's 2 coach, I am headed to the sideline. By this time the scene is getting really bad as parents are coming out onto the field. I blow my whistle and yell for my refs to come to me. Then another flag is thrown for unsportsmanlike conduct on the parents. I get to the head coach and am trying to tell him talk to me, I am the the WH, don't talk to my refs. He tells me don't touch me, tears away from me and goes after my umpire, gets in his face and says get the f*** back out on the field and try to do your f***ing job. I throw my flag and call the game at this point. OMG you would have thought I had just cancelled Christmas because I am instantly surrounded by parents shouting profanities at me and saying how horrible the game was reffed. I really thought things were going to get physical.

I know this is really long and drawn out, but this all occured in the span of about 2 minutes. I really think this new kid had no business being out there in the first place and needed to grow a little thicker skin before throwing the initial flag, but could I have removed him? All of this really could have been avoided if the coach would have simply talked to me instead of going nuts on the sideline.

Have any of you had this experience and what were your results? I hope to gain some lessons learned from some of the more experienced guys on the board.

Thanks
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Old Wed Nov 10, 2004, 08:11pm
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Sounds like a very difficult situation. It sounds like it deteriorated too quickly to do much of anything. You were put in a bad position with inexperienced official.

Did you have much of an opportunity did you get to talk to him before the game? Once things started going downhill it might have been wise to call an official timeout, if possible, and explain that 'no whistle' is better than an inadvertant one. I've seen Refs ask other officials to tuck their whistle inside their shirt when it became a problem.

But still, the coaches contributed to the problem. Like you said, they didn't give you a chance to rectify the situation.

I don't know what else you could have done. I'd be very hesitant to ask another official to leave the field. The way I see it, the officials are a team out there. If one goes, they all go.
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Old Thu Nov 11, 2004, 12:22am
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Look, seriously - they don't pay me enough to put up with that b.s.

If the game was actually abandoned, I'd have left the premises and put the gear in the bag when I got home and never taken it out again. Rack me, I'm out.
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Old Thu Nov 11, 2004, 04:41am
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Seems to me you had a chance to fix it before it got outta hand. Simply talking to the new official, telling him what he needs to do, even telling him to put away his whistle and having your other wing handle the whole line if he still could not handle things corrctly. Maybe you get thru the game before coaches realize he is not officiating anymore, even if you have to put him into the U hole to do it. I would definetly tell your assignors that the kid needs a lot more training before he steps foot onto a field again to call any type of live game. He does not have the slightest grasp of simple and basic rules.

Putting a "foot" into the coaches earlier than what was done was probably needed as I am sure they did not go from dead quite angels to out of control maniacs in the matter of a couple minutes.

Sounds to me the first flag for the warning by the rookie was appropriate, albeit late. The Umpire made it worst by throwing his before you had a chance to get them back in control (unless the coach started cussing after the first flag).
If you touched the coach you were dead wrong as well. Get between him and the "area of contention" and direct him to where you want him to go, but do not put a hand on him. If he chooses to do something else, end the discussion and the game.

Calling the game was defintely the right thing to do and I would submit a report requesting that coach(s) get banned from the league as well. Maybe even the team banned is needed since most of the parents could not control themselves.
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Old Thu Nov 11, 2004, 11:04am
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Question

How old were these players? You mention parents so that indicates that we are dealing with children under 12. Games at this level are called by new officials. To expect anything more that greenhorns calling a game at this level is unrealistic on the leagues part. New officials are going to make mistakes. The coaches and parents have an obligation to set a sportsmanship example to the players. They should be suspended from further coaching and game attendance for their behavior.

On the other hand, if these were 18 year olds playing flag football, they have a right to expect good officiating. From your description, it sounds like they didn't get it. That does not condone their behavior but your assignor may owe the league an apology. The league should still suspend the coach and parents. (BTW, I have never seen a high school league of flag football.)
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Old Thu Nov 11, 2004, 11:29am
tpaul
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re: coaches

wxscpo,

I know it's hard once you loose control of a game to get it back.

But I work with a lot of first year officials and some are good and some are bad. Before I start a game and I know I have one or two new officials I talk to both head coaches before the game. I remind them we were all new at one point and we all make mistales and that I'll do my best to get everthing done properly. For the most part this gets the coach ready for a nightmare.

Then once the game is going if a coach has a problem with that official I remind him that the official is inexperienced and is tryingt to do his job. I remind the coach "what is important here is sportsmanship and not the winning or losing of this game."

I know this is a little late but like always learn from your mistakes (I'm good at it- LOL).

Also, Once you end a game get out of dodge a fast as possible! Report every thing to the league or assignor.

But most important the officials are the third team and you need to help each other. After the game tell the assignor that this one official needs help.
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Old Thu Nov 11, 2004, 12:47pm
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If its me, I'm calling the game, I'm not putting up with that crap. Bye bye, have fun officiating your own game.
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  #8 (permalink)  
Old Fri Nov 12, 2004, 03:49am
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All this youth league and flag bashing has got me in tears. You poor guys LOL No really; it is too bad it’s so bad in some places. Maybe I can lighten up this thread a little. Where I live there’s a very disciplined Pop Warner youth league. They have a zero-tolerance for bad behavior and it’s actually a pleasure to work games for them. Last week I worked a play-off game with a crew of two 4-year guys, a 2-year guy, and a rookie. We did an extensive pre-game with “keep the whistle out of your mouth and flag in your pants” as the main points of emphasis. We reminded both coaches before the game that they were responsible for maintaining proper decorum on their respective sidelines, including keeping unruly fans in line. The game went well and we all had a pretty good time. Most plays ended with a single whistle, very few flags and not an IW among us, . After the game, which turned into a 28-0 romp, the losing Coach came up to thank us, saying he thought we did an excellent job. I know it doesn’t sound right does it? LOL .
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Old Fri Nov 12, 2004, 07:40am
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Quote:
Originally posted by James Neil
All this youth league and flag bashing has got me in tears. You poor guys LOL No really; it is too bad it’s so bad in some places. Maybe I can lighten up this thread a little. Where I live there’s a very disciplined Pop Warner youth league. They have a zero-tolerance for bad behavior and it’s actually a pleasure to work games for them. Last week I worked a play-off game with a crew of two 4-year guys, a 2-year guy, and a rookie. We did an extensive pre-game with “keep the whistle out of your mouth and flag in your pants” as the main points of emphasis. We reminded both coaches before the game that they were responsible for maintaining proper decorum on their respective sidelines, including keeping unruly fans in line. The game went well and we all had a pretty good time. Most plays ended with a single whistle, very few flags and not an IW among us, . After the game, which turned into a 28-0 romp, the losing Coach came up to thank us, saying he thought we did an excellent job. I know it doesn’t sound right does it? LOL .
Sounds great. I think most games probably go something like you describe. Unfortunately, it's the ugly situations that get all the ink.

The best experience I've had as a football official occurred about 5 years ago in a youth game. It was the final game of the season. The home team, a perennial power in this league, had an awful season. They lost their star running back in week 1 with a broken arm. I worked that game also.

They posted their first losing season in years and were closing out the regular schedule with a home game against one of the biggest rivals. The game got out of hand early and the visiting coach just kept piling it on.

It's not late in the 4th quarter the home team is trailing by 4 or 5 touchdowns. On a third down play the home team QB drops back to pass and is sacked. The home coach calls for a TO. I'm expecting him to vent a season's worth of frustrations on his team.

Instead, he calmly walks into the huddle and gathers his players around. He goes on to discuss that the coverage they just say is what they practiced against all week. He reviews their blocking assignments and gives them a final word of encouragement as he tells them to play like a team for the final few minutes of the season.

This was a team of 7th and 8th graders. The coach was going to lose most of his starters to high school the next season. What did he have to gain by continuing to coach to the end? Well, for one thing, he gained my undying respect.

When the game ended I made a point to let him know that I thought he had just done the best thing you could ever ask of a coach. He treated his players with respect.
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Old Fri Nov 12, 2004, 09:13am
Ref Ump Welsch
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waltjp,

You didn't meet just a coach. You met a teacher, a mentor. A rarity in these days.
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