September 25, 2012
True story - I was leaving today's terrific girls soccer game between Jamesville-DeWitt and CBA, as described here, and walking past the usual crowd of parents, friends and other folks that come out to these games, supporting their favorites.
One lady greeted me, very politely, and for a brief moment we discussed the OT battle just finished. Naturally she was mad that one of the goals counted, she said it should have been offside.
That's how it goes. No one EVER really loses a game - some awful person wearing an official's uniform committed the unthinkable, unforgivable deed of making a call, or not making a call, and that's what made the difference - not, you know, the athletes on the field.
It's an important point to make in the wake of the NFL debacle, of which I say plenty about in this column. First-string or not, the oldest tradition in sports is to carp about officials, and at the youth sports level it can get a bit too much.
Having met, and covered, so many games over the years, and having seen hundreds of officials of some type at work, it's clear that they don't do this to be popular, or wealthy. They do it because they love sports and love being around teenagers that have that same love for it.
Are some officials better than others? Of course. Do some merely arbitrate the contest, and others take over and think it's about themselves? Absolutely.
But to think that every single loss is part of some grand conspiracy to keep your child from the next level is just plain silly. Many different times I've heard some parents pay more attention to who's officiating than the players on the field, as if they're looking for screw-ups and excuses before the game even starts.
High school sports is exciting and emotional, but it's still mostly populated by kids that won't ever play a sport at a higher level. They're not going to get scholarship money and they'll never sniff pro dollars.
So please forgive me if I tune out most of the complaints, unless I feel like officiating may have dictated an outcome - like it did in Seattle. There's enough compelling stuff to keep the focus on the kids, and not on the people blowing the whistles.