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Old Wed Oct 12, 2011, 12:37am
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Irate Coach - First time flagging a coach

I recently worked a middle school game at the HL position. About halfway through the 4th quarter, a play ends toward the hash mark on my side of the field and I come in to give the spot. I’m standing about a yard outside the hash mark trying to clear some players off the ground. I look up and the head coach from the visiting team is standing about 2 feet away from me yelling that he had called a time out. The exchange went something like this:
Coach: “Why didn’t you give me my time out? I was yelling at you for a time out.”

Me: “Coach, I didn’t hear you call for a time out.”

Coach: “I was right in your ear yelling on the sideline. I called for a time out. You had to have heard me. I called for a time out.”

Me: “Coach, I didn’t hear you call for a time out.”

Coach: “I called for a time out. Why didn’t you give me a time out? You had to have heard me. I wanted a time out.”

Me: “Coach, there’s no need for that.”
(Probably not the best choice of words. I meant to say there’s no need for yelling, but I was caught off guard and a little shaken up.)
At this point the coach walks past me, past the hash mark, and is now about two yards on the other side of the hash mark from me. My white hat notices the commotion and starts heading toward us. The coach turns back to face me and yells 2 more times, “I called for a time out. You heard me call for a time out.”

So I reach for my flag, hesitate for about a second, and then toss it in the air. My adrenaline is pumping and my heart is racing. As much as I hate to admit it, I was intimidated by the coach. He was a big guy, and he hadn’t stopped yelling since he first came onto the field. When I say ‘yelling’, I don’t mean he was just talking in an agitated tone – I mean he was yelling to the point that the veins in his head & neck looked like they were about to burst.

My white hat gets the players cleared out of the way and comes to me to ask me what I’ve got. This sounds funny in retrospect, but I say the first thing that comes to mind: “I’ve got the coach coming onto the field and yelling in my face.” I explained to the WH what had happened, and told him that if he felt like the flag should be waived off, it was his call. My WH decided to make the flag a sideline warning instead of USC. He later explained that he didn’t want to add insult to injury by missing their time out request AND penalizing the team 15 yds.

After the game we discussed it briefly and all of the other 3 officials said they didn’t hear the coach call for a time out either. When I asked if I did the right thing by throwing the flag, my WH said I pretty much didn’t have a choice since the coach came all the way out on the field like that.

I’m only a second year official, and I’ve never flagged a coach before. In fact, this was only my second time ever tossing a flag for an unsportsmanlike conduct incident. I don’t have a bad temper, and I generally give coaches wide latitude with regard to what they say and do on the sideline.

My reason for posting this is to ask whether I handled the situation correctly, what you might have done in a similar situation, and if there are any pointers you can give for dealing with irate coaches.


Thanks in advance guys!
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Old Wed Oct 12, 2011, 01:23am
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Originally Posted by PocketSidewalk View Post
I recently worked a middle school game at the HL position.
I did not need to read anymore. Of course you did.

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Old Wed Oct 12, 2011, 03:49am
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As soon as this coach is yelling AT you in the way that you describe, and just 2 feet from you out onto the field, flag him, and get away from him. Let him sink himself if he wants to shower early.

The only thing I can suggest is that the learning point here is to recognize abhorrent behaviour and not to get worked up over it. Just flag it and move on.

As for issuing a sideline warning, I wouldn't have - i would have stayed with the USC. (But then again, since I work up here in Canada, our philosophies are likely different. It begins with coaches not being permitting on the field at all for any reason other than an injury.)
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Old Wed Oct 12, 2011, 06:22am
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Your WH did everyone a disservice. If a coach on the hashes screaming in your face isn't unsportsmanlike conduct, I don't know what is. In this situation, I'd have walked off the 15 and dumped the coach in a NY minute.
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Old Wed Oct 12, 2011, 06:23am
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One of my WH's tells us in pre-game- "you have a gun, use it". That is not a sideline warning, particularly at the MS level.

After you sort out the spot and the penalty enforcement, "Would you still like your time-out, coach?"
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Old Wed Oct 12, 2011, 07:28am
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Any one of these is sufficient for a USC flag:
1. the coach chasing you in to the hash
2. the coach screaming in your face
3. the coach repeating himself over and over, which shows you up

You had all 3, which borders on flagrant.

The WH has no business sticking his nose in this, as it is your call. Once you throw that flag, it needs to be enforced, or you lose any remaining credibility. If he wants to mentor you about the advisability of that flag, he can do that after the game.
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Old Wed Oct 12, 2011, 08:01am
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Coach: “Why didn’t you give me my time out? I was yelling at you for a time out.”

Me: “Coach, I didn’t hear you call for a time out. Please get back to your sideline"

Coach: “I was right in your ear yelling on the sideline. I called for a time out. You had to have heard me. I called for a time out.”

Me: Coach, please get off the field.”

Coach: “I called for a time out. Why didn’t you give me a time out? You had to have heard me. I wanted a time out.”

You: (FLAG)

Once you flag him, get away by moving toward your WH to report your foul.
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Old Wed Oct 12, 2011, 08:18am
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Don't apologize for flagging a coach when necessary.
Too much we all just want to get along and put up with poor sportmanship (unsportmanlike conduct).
Let me tell you a story about a flag I once threw as an LJ that was the 2nd USC on a coach. Believe me it is not always easy especially when it includes ejection which this did.
Later that season word got out out that that coach was ejected by us. I then heard from two different crews that they should have flagged the same coach in earlier games.
My thought was "thanks" you panty-wearing weenies. You could have addressed this problem and didn't. Now we had to be the bad guys.
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Old Wed Oct 12, 2011, 08:54am
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Originally Posted by JRutledge View Post
I did not need to read anymore. Of course you did.

Peace
What does THAT mean? BTW, I did the exact same thing last Tuesday. I had a blast and so did the kids.
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Old Wed Oct 12, 2011, 09:03am
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Originally Posted by RichMSN View Post
What does THAT mean? BTW, I did the exact same thing last Tuesday. I had a blast and so did the kids.
Middle school and JH coaches are often over the top and out of control. Of course he had to throw a flag for a situation. It does not matter how well the crew did or what was said, the outcome is not surprising to me.

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Old Wed Oct 12, 2011, 09:13am
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Originally Posted by JRutledge View Post
Middle school and JH coaches are often over the top and out of control. Of course he had to throw a flag for a situation. It does not matter how well the crew did or what was said, the outcome is not surprising to me.

Peace
I choose to work youth games only where the coaches are in control. Makes my life easier. About 10 years ago I worked a youth Saturday and the coaches acted like this, so I started throwing flags. The president of the league called me and told me that the coaches didn't want me back -- I told him that it was OK, I wouldn't come back even if they did UNLESS the program was willing to clamp down on out-of-control coaches. They weren't and I never went back. This year the same program was looking for officials and asked me to try to get some from my association. I conveniently forgot to pass the message along.

Usually programs like that get newer officials or people in it for the bucks who don't know how to handle the situation or don't care as long as they're paid cash at the field.

On another topic, the WH has no business changing the call to a sideline warning or inferring that the OP "missed" a timeout request. If I come in and tell a WH I have USC on the head coach, I expect it's going to be enforced. And this comes from a guy who *is* a varsity WH.
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Old Wed Oct 12, 2011, 08:06pm
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Originally Posted by mbyron View Post
The WH has no business sticking his nose in this, as it is your call. Once you throw that flag, it needs to be enforced, or you lose any remaining credibility. If he wants to mentor you about the advisability of that flag, he can do that after the game.
My intention in starting this thread wasn't to criticize my WH or even to ask if what he did was right or wrong. That being said, I did feel like I lost some credibility when the penalty was changed to just a warning. It really just added more uncertainty to an already tense and stressful situation.

I really like this official, and I enjoy working on the crew when he's the WH. This particular incident hasn't changed my feelings one way or another. It's hard to say why he did what he did; I'm sure he had his reasons, right or wrong.

Ultimately I've tried to avoid too much speculation into his motives because I don't want to create any ill will in my own mind that could possibly hurt our professional relationship.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'd like to give this official the benefit of the doubt, at least this once.
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Old Wed Oct 12, 2011, 08:48pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CT1 View Post
Coach: “Why didn’t you give me my time out? I was yelling at you for a time out.”

Me: “Coach, I didn’t hear you call for a time out. Please get back to your sideline"

Coach: “I was right in your ear yelling on the sideline. I called for a time out. You had to have heard me. I called for a time out.”

Me: Coach, please get off the field.”

Coach: “I called for a time out. Why didn’t you give me a time out? You had to have heard me. I wanted a time out.”

You: (FLAG)

Once you flag him, get away by moving toward your WH to report your foul.

Thanks, CT1. It's simple statements like this that are very helpful. It seems like such an obvious thing to say in retrospect, but at the time I was at a loss for words. It's like my vocabulary shrunk the instant I looked up and saw the coach standing there. I don't mean to give the impression that I was afraid of him, but it certainly was a situation I hadn't dealt with previously or prepared for; it caught me off guard to say the least.

Reading your modified conversation and replaying the events in my mind help me to see how I might have better handled the situation by using a few simple, yet powerful words: "Coach, please get off the field." I'm sure that's something I won't soon forget should a similar situation happen in the future.

It kinda reminds me of something I heard at a clinic earlier this year. One of the clinicians told us a good, non-confrontational phrase to use when dealing with coaches. That phrase was: "I hear you, coach." It's such a short, simple phrase, yet it conveys several messages:
  • You've heard the coach's argument/plea;
  • you're not simply ignoring him; and,
  • there's no need for him to continue repeating himself because his point has been made and acknowledged by you

Simple phrases, seemingly obvious, yet powerful and good to have in your arsenal.


I'll dispense with the rhetoric and end by saying that another good thing to have in your arsenal is a shiny yellow flag. And while my vocabulary seemed to fail me on the field, I could've filled up the stadium that night with several much more colorful words that I would've loved to have shared with the coach.
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Old Wed Oct 12, 2011, 11:08pm
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Originally Posted by RichMSN View Post
I choose to work youth games only where the coaches are in control.
Not something I can control in most situations. Even if I could, there is someone that does not get it.

Peace
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Old Fri Oct 14, 2011, 10:15am
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Originally Posted by PocketSidewalk View Post
My intention in starting this thread wasn't to criticize my WH or even to ask if what he did was right or wrong. That being said, I did feel like I lost some credibility when the penalty was changed to just a warning. It really just added more uncertainty to an already tense and stressful situation.

I really like this official, and I enjoy working on the crew when he's the WH. This particular incident hasn't changed my feelings one way or another. It's hard to say why he did what he did; I'm sure he had his reasons, right or wrong.

Ultimately I've tried to avoid too much speculation into his motives because I don't want to create any ill will in my own mind that could possibly hurt our professional relationship.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'd like to give this official the benefit of the doubt, at least this once.
I think the other thing you should change was in your original post you told the WH he could wave off the flag if he thought it was the right thing to do and you left the call up to the WH. If you throw the flag, it's your call. Make the call and stick with it. Don't force the WH to make a decision when he was not the official who was being yelled at.
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