ON THE SIDELINES: Your mouth could hit your wallet, and hurt your team

by Dec 10, 2015SPORTS di-ne-lv-di-yi0 comments





Basketball is in full swing now, and I’m covering multiple games a week which is a sure sign to me that winter is fast approaching.  At a game this past week, I was on the sidelines taking photos when I heard an opposing team’s fan yell at the referee.

“Hey idiot!  I’m going to be waiting for you in the parking lot!”

First and foremost, that’s ridiculous.  Get some perspective in your life pal.  You’re seriously going to threaten a referee at a high school basketball game?

What you perceived as a bad call is worth going to jail for?  Yes sir, communicating threats is a crime.  What you perceived as a bad call is worth getting banned from games for a year?  Yes sir, that can happen.  What you perceived as a bad call is worth your school being fined?  Yes sir, that also can happen.

But, most importantly, what you perceived as a bad call is worth threatening someone within earshot of children and elders?  Come on man!

According to Sec. 3.2.2. (d) of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Handbook on Penalties and Fines, “(1) Spectators may not approach or contact game officials in any way to question the judgment or decision of an official.  (2) Schools are responsible and may be disciplined for the conduct of their spectators.  (3) Any assault upon, or intimidate of, a game official by a spectator is per se unsportsmanlike conduct by the school and may be dealt with as such.”

Spectators found in violation of this may be placed on probation, banned from games for up to a year or cause their school to be fined.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I enjoy hearing people screaming for their team and even screaming about calls.  But, to take it that one step further…or many giant steps further really…and threaten to harm the official is just bad judgment.

You can yell, “Come on ref!” or the ever-popular “Call it both ways ref!”

But, screaming out, “I know where you live!” or “I’m gonna find you!” is just inappropriate, and criminal.

I’ve written before about how hard it must be to officiate sports, especially high school sports.  They get little respect, get yelled at a lot, and yes, they don’t always get it right.  In fact, at almost every game I cover there is at least one wrong call.  This past football season, I took a pretty decent photo of a touchdown being scored by Cherokee that wasn’t counted as a touchdown.  But, that’s sports.    These things happen, and they will always happen as long as humans officiate games.  No one is perfect, but the men and women in the striped shirts surely don’t deserve to be threatened when they do make a mistake.

How would you like it if someone came to your work and threatened you every time you made a mistake?  Plus, one day you might actually run into that one official who has had enough and doesn’t mind waiting for you in the parking lot.