The Most Important Game Of The Day

Here are a few comments that make my blood boil:

  • “It’s just summer ball”
  • “It’s just a U11 game”
  • “Relax Coach, it’s only a club game”

I have no problem if you believe those comments. I often think the same when a U11 coach goes ballistic over called line violation. Guess how I get away with that kind of thinking? I don’t freaking say them out loud!

I like to think that my brain-mouth connection is pretty good. Unfortunately, some officials have a frayed connection between theirs. I get it, it’s your fourth game of the day in the summer heat and you have had enough with Coach X. So you make what you think is an unloaded comment, but the coach takes it as you don’t care about being on the field. The coach complains to the assignor, the assignor calls you and asks why in the world you would make that kind of comment.

Is the U11 third-place game at a local summer tournament the most important game of the day? No. Is it the most important game of the day to the players? Yes.

I do not play lip service to the idea that you should give your best effort even when it doesn’t seem that big of a deal if you don’t. I believe the kids deserve my very best because it is my job description. I believe in giving my best because of BT.

BT was my kickboxing and jiu-jitsu instructor when I was a teenager. Every time he put on his instructor’s uniform he was ready to go and he meant business. This guy punished me on a regular basis. Grueling workouts and painful submissions were my life for nearly five years, but I kept coming back for more because BT always pushed me to be better. He never let up and always brought his “A” game. Giving him any less than my best would be an insult to the energy he brought to the academy. So I sweated, bled, got knocked and choked unconscious for five years. I learned that when you show up and put on a uniform it is time to go to work.

Now, I am not running nearly as fast on my fifth game of the tournament, but I am going as fast as my legs can take me. I still tuck my tumb when pointing directions, and I still throw my flag as high as I can. Even in the U11 third-place game. I do this because I believe I represent the integrity of the game whenever I wear the stripes.

Because I represent the integrity of the game I cannot allow myself to make some flippant comment to a coach. I bite my tongue because if the coach believes I don’t want to be there he will carry that belief with him to the next game and his next officiating crew. I may owe it to the game to keep my mouth shut, but I owe my partners even more. I don’t want to give them an uphill climb in their next game with the coach I just had to respond to.

So do yourself a favor. Next time you want to make a smart aleck retort to a coach remember it’s just a game and there is no reason to get yourself all worked up.


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