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Old Mon Oct 09, 2006, 06:03pm
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How to ignore

I had a game this Saturday where there was a parent just berating me. I heard him say just before the game as I was checking pylons and such "oh, we got a rookie over here today" As the game progresses he's probably 5 to8 feet behind me at the fence questioning my every call and non-call. He follows me the whole game. His team is winning so I'm just wondering what the hell his problem is. I'm calling a fairly good game if I do say so myself.
Well, near the end of the game about 2 minutes to go. His team up by 20. His son (I'm guessing) runs a little 3 yard run and is tackled right in front of me. The tackler is obviously frustrated by the plight of his team and doesn't immediately let go of the runners foot. The runner pushes him with his free foot...not a kick mind you but I get in right up on them and start yelling "up easy, knock it off. Well, they snap to and stand up and I just warn them both that I'm not going to take any crap here at the end of the game. They both have excuses and I just tell them both to go back to their huddles. I thought I did a good job there...avoided my point across and things ultimately were fine the last two minutes with the kids.
Well, during all this that jerk is right behind me yell "he's twisting his leg. Maybe I should try and tear your ankle off too if you ain't gonna control this game." etc, etc. I finally after sending the boys off turn my head to him and say "and your boy kicked him so whatcha want me to call?" I know, huge mistake. I just acknowledge this idiot and he goes off. "call something, do something. you ain't call anything all game" blah blah blah.
The white hat spoke to me after the game and sternly warned me not to EVER speak with a fan again. My question is do y'all have anything that you do to help you ignore these people? These fellas are so close at some of these fields that you want to just walk over and slap the crap outta them. Calling me a cheater...talking about tearing my ankle off, etc.

Next day the white hat of that game came and watched me officiate a pee-wee game without my knowledge. After the game got going he get up close behind me at the fence and starts in on me. I dealt with it by whispering down and distance, eligible reciever numbers and other such things to myself so I would be less likely to hear/listen. Near the end of the game he hops the fence and gets right behind me and says good job...see you've learned your lesson. Kinda cool but anyhow, that's how I've decided to ignore people.
Who knew...I'd be talking to myself and it'd be a good thing. Guess it's ok as long as I don't answer myself.
Sorry for the long post...just throwing something out here. So again, what do y'all use to ignore???
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old Mon Oct 09, 2006, 06:32pm
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Just remind yourself that fans are idiots, think they "know" the rules from watching Sunday games, and they see everything the way they want to see it rather than the way it is and then get right back to concentrating on your dead ball routine.
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  #3 (permalink)  
Old Mon Oct 09, 2006, 07:15pm
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Never, ever, ever talk to a fan

I know you want to. I know you want to choke the ever-living chit out of 'em but don't.

I usually talk to my box man as he and I are always together, of course. I'll explain the rule and why it applied or didn't as the case may be.

Varsity games I rarely hear any particular person. Its the middle school games where they play at the HS stadium and nobody is there that you here the loud mouth. We've even had to explain to the MS coaches that they need to keep it down because everyone can hear everything they say.

Our local stadium had a MS/JV double-header several weeks ago. The MS game hadn't finished quite yet so I went to the chains to hang out with the crew. Somebody in the visitor stands was on their own coach something fierce. The poor guy wound up hollering at his QB to spike the ball on 4th down. The guy in the stands was yelling out on what an idiot he was. itruly felt sorry for him.
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Old Mon Oct 09, 2006, 09:33pm
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You just can't win

Football spectators know all the rules. They should. They listen to Joe Theismann every weekend.

They'll tell you all about the horse-collar tackle you missed and how a pass was uncatchable and why you're wrong to signal touchback and place the ball on the 20 when the kicking team recovered the ball in R's end zone.

The best defense you have is to know the rules and apply them correctly. If a coach wants an explanation then give it to him when you get a chance. Be cordial. And do try to remember the nonsense you hear from the spectators. It makes for good conversation with your crew after the game.
I got a fever! And the only prescription.. is more cowbell!
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Old Mon Oct 09, 2006, 11:18pm
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On occassion I will put the "cat that ate the canary" smile on my face and look in the direction of the jerk. Kind of like I know your a jerk and so does everyone else. This will have 2 possible effects. The first is that he'll realize that he can't get to you and he'll shut up. The second is that it will drive him even more insane. He'll continue to ratchet up the insults until someone tells him to knock it off. Just be sure to not make direct eye contact and do not respond verbally. Probably not by the book, but, it has worked for me.
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  #6 (permalink)  
Old Tue Oct 10, 2006, 01:07am
I Bleed Crimson
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I posted this situation before (I think it was last season). I had a kid break free for about a 50 yard touchdown. I was the BJ, so I was standing on the GL as the runner nears the goal. The pursuing defender did a slide and tried to kick out the feet of the runner. He tripped the runner, but the runner was able to keep his balance enough to cross the GL upright.

I immediately get an earful from a guy standing behind the EZ (this is a small school--8 man football on a cramped field with no real defined fan areas). He starts talking about how tripping is illegal and the safety of the kids are in danger when I am officiating. He threatened "legal action" if that trip had caused an injury.

It took a tremendous amount of self-restraint to ignore this guy. It's one thing to chew on me about not calling a PI, holding, etc. But to say that I'm threatening the safety of the kids playing is something else. Then to top it off with a threat of legal action....

I was irate at the guy, but somehow I kept my tongue. That was probably the single toughest moment to keep quiet in my career.
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Old Tue Oct 10, 2006, 03:00am
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I guess that is the joy of the leagues I officiate in Germany. Absolutely no fans!

As a player on the weekend I had a frustrating time though. We were in a different area (I didn't know the officials). In the third quarter myself and another team captain at various times were trying to ask (VERY politely) for clarification of a flag (since the WH didn't signal to our side as well), or for a time check (no stadium clocks in most games in Germany). He completely ignored both of us.
At first I thought he didn't hear, but then I went over and after asking my questions (politely) 3 times, I asked if he was ignoring me. His response was that he had 'heard so much sh** from our sideline that he was not responding to us anymore'.
I have to say that that seemed like completely the wrong way to do things. Ignore, then say something like that when the question was legitamite and politely worded. I mentioned to the WH about it, but don't know if the talked about it after the game.

Just gives me something to check when I'm on the sideline - make sure I don't respond like that.

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Old Tue Oct 10, 2006, 08:32am
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A trick I learned is to not respond to those guys as you obviously learned. Through time you'll get to the point to where you can't even hear it anymore. But, as always there are those hecklers that are the exception. What I do is find something to talk to that teams coach about. Don't mention anything about the heckler but find something you can say to the coach and then make eye contact with that heckler while you are talking to the coach. In most cases this guy will think you are talking to the coach about him and will go his own way so he won't risk being thrown out.
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Old Tue Oct 10, 2006, 09:37am
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First of all, you don't have to whisper your pre-snap ritual to yourself, yell it to your crew mates. On Friday nights, they can't hear you in most cases, but it helps keep your head where it belongs -- in the game. I know we all use hand signals, but verbal reinforcement is OK and the coach knows you are working. I work LJ on Friday nights, I say, "Second Down Jared (WH)" while I signal to him, then "Second Down, clock's running, Tyler" (BJ) while I'm signaling to him. Then, "We got 11," when I put my fist out to the BJ. "You're on the line," to the wideout who is on the line and then tip my cap to the HL to signal my half of the line of scrimmage has 3 guys plus the center.

I've found that works better to keep your head in the game and frankly, coaches tend to realize that between downs you actually have a job that is more than listening to him complain about a play that happened last quarter.

As for the disruptive fan, if it's too bad, you can always have game administration remove him. Once had an administrator ask me if I would tell him to remove a fan so he could tell his school board member he'd been asked to shut up or leave. The administrators are usually happy to deal with unruly fans, remember they have to hear the same jerk every week, you only get them once.
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Old Tue Oct 10, 2006, 11:15am
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Friday night, my Linesman, who is black, had a flag for a false start on the team on his sideline. According to the most recent census data, the town is 97% white and .66% black. The team is 100% white. After the penalty was administered, as I was preparing to give the ready, I heard "Go back to Africa" from the stands.

I stopped the game, went to the head coach and asked for their administrator. I explained what had occurred, indicated the area where the comment had originated, and requested she take care of it.

We did not wait for her to act, so I do not know what she did, but nothing else unclassy was heard. After the game, as we were exiting the field, one of the assistant coaches caught up to us and explained the students were not referring to him as black, but were referring to him as a "zebra".

Yeah, right coach, whatever you want to believe.
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  #11 (permalink)  
Old Tue Oct 10, 2006, 12:04pm
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It is very easy to ignore fans when they are behind the ropes or in the stands. You just have to ignore them in those situations. Now if they start putting themselves on the field and players and coaches start responding, you have another situation. The latter are situations where you might have to directly address a fan. Now when the fan came onto the field and said something to you I suggest that you keep in professional and say no more than "Thank you." I would not engage into a long conversation with the fan or stay around for further insults and comments. Dealing with fans is just something you are going to have to do and knowing how to handle them is part of your job. Fans do not hire your or get you fired. So listening to them for more than comedy purposes is something you just have to do.

Let us get into "Good Trouble."
Charles Michael “Mick” Chambers (1947-2010)
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Old Tue Oct 10, 2006, 09:50pm
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So far I agree with everything everyone has said so far about not addressing fans. It only gets them going more. Now, that being said, if there is a fan that is being loud and a combination of vulgar, profane, threatening, etc. it is not beyond the rules to stop the game and find the game administrator and advise them that the game will not continue until the fan is either removed or silenced.

Now, please don't read this like I'm saying that we shut a game down because we can't take the heat of loud and obnoxious fans. That's not what I'm saying at all and a big part of our job out there is to simply ignore. But if I hear a fan screaming f-bombs, etc. so loudly that the other side of the stadium can hear it loud and clear (and this is possible in some of the smaller venues where it's actually quiet), it becomes a true sportsmanship issue and for the sake of the game, this must be addressed. On the average, we've had to actually eject a fan (or at least involve game management) probably once every 3-4 years, but just know that it is an option.
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Old Tue Oct 10, 2006, 10:25pm
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I had a funny one a couple weeks ago. We had several plays in the first half on one end of the field. On several occasions I heard a fan (probably standing at the fence) screaming we made a horrible spot. In most cases a runner went down and bounced or skidded forward a couple yards. I correctly marked his down where he originally hit the ground. After 3 or 4 instances I made a comment to the photographer standing near me. He laughed and said the guy was one of the judges in town. Sounds like he may not have the best judgement. I didn't hear him in the second half so he must have gone home. The photographer and I had a good laugh about it throughout the game though.
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Old Wed Oct 11, 2006, 12:42am
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"Sir, I am not a real referee, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night."

"I didn't yell at you when you burnt my fries last night."

At least you can play these in your head, if you don't want to use them on the fan. If you do, the nearby fans will have a great deal of admiration for you. I think you can figure out when they might be useful.
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Old Wed Oct 11, 2006, 02:22pm
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Originally Posted by Forksref
"Sir, I am not a real referee, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night."

"I didn't yell at you when you burnt my fries last night."

At least you can play these in your head, if you don't want to use them on the fan. If you do, the nearby fans will have a great deal of admiration for you. I think you can figure out when they might be useful.

the fries comment is just too funny. I'll have to remember that one!

One note - as soon as the guy mentioned that he should twist your ankle, he crossed the line. I would have stopped it right there and got the game administrator to run the guy (without holding up the game). Threats of violence can't be ignored.
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