COMMENTARY: Refs should keep their eyes open, mouths shut

by Oct 7, 2013OPINIONS0 comments




I have been around football for most of my life; first, as a player, and now, as a reporter and photographer.  I have seen some horrible officiating in my time, but nothing compares to what I witnessed first-hand at the Cherokee – Murphy JV game at Murphy on Thursday, Sept. 26.

First off, the overall officiating that night was awful, just awful.  There were numerous missed calls (or no-calls as they are sometimes called) throughout the game including a rather brutal horse collar of a Cherokee player that happened right at the feet of one of the officials.  The player was hurt and had to be carried to the sidelines.  The official didn’t throw a flag.

That and other calls like it had the Cherokee fans in a deserved uproar.  Cherokee’s players had already been flagged for several unsportsmanlike conduct calls including several which left everyone (players, coaches, fans) shaking their heads wondering who did what.

But, the bad calls and no-calls wasn’t even the worse of it and isn’t the impetus behind this commentary.

The Murphy Bulldogs were driving in the fourth quarter and made their way deep into Cherokee territory.  As I do each game, I follow the action so I can take photographs.  I was standing behind the end line of the end zone just to the right of the goal post so I could position myself for the best possible shots.

Now, to cut to the chase…

Cherokee had some confusion on defense and ended up with only 10 players on the field.  So, the Cherokee coaches sent a player from the sidelines on, and the player ran as fast as he could to try and make it onto the field in time for that play.  When it was obvious he wasn’t going to make it in time and to avoid a penalty, the Cherokee coaches called a timeout.

At that moment, the back judge turned to the Cherokee players and said, “That’s why you lose boys, it’s not because of us.”

I heard this plain as day as I was only 10-15 feet away, and I would imagine all of the defense heard the comment.  I know for a fact a few did as they were irate.

A referee has no business saying something like this to a player.  He is to call the game to the best of his ability and that’s where it begins and ends.

These are not professional athletes making millions of dollars.  They aren’t even college athletes being seen on televisions nation-wide on a Saturday.  They aren’t even high school athletes.  These are JV athletes, 7th and 8th graders.

When you take on the job of an official for any sport, you have to know that you’re going to get flack about your calls from parents, coaches and sometimes from the players themselves.  That comes with the territory.  That’s actually one reason why I have never tried to be an official.  I know football as well as just about anybody around, but I wear glasses and…well, come on… an official with glasses.

The bottom line is that the Cherokee players deserve better than the way they were treated that night.  They are young men just trying to play a game, and everyone, including that official, need to realize that it’s just a game and they are just young men.  If you can’t act better, there’s the door.