Do me a favor?
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT berate, harass, threaten, or intimidate student referees when watching your kid play sports.
If your kid is young enough for you to drive him to the field, tie her cleats, and put sunscreen on his nose, you should be keep your mouth shut when a ref makes a call.
All you parents hoping your kid becomes a professional, or full-scholarship soccer-softball-basketball-lacrosse-wrestling-baseball scholar, hate to break it to you, but probably not gonna happen. Especially at U11, or any sport that defines age with a U.
What will happen is this:
Your kid will grow and become a gangly, goofy teenager and decide reffing is good money. Your little Messi or Beckham may give up playing altogether.
They may not even make THE HIGH SCHOOL TEAM. Get used to it.
Instead, they’ll opt to become an official – insert sport here – referee. They’ll go through classroom and turf/court training and take tests and buy whistles and nasty polyester shirts all because they want to be around kids and the sport they love, and make good cash doing it. This time is not so far away, you’ll see.
And when it happens, it’s going to scare you to hear what some coaches and parents say and do from the sidelines. It’s exactly what some of you are about to do this very weekend. It’s the ref’s job to make the call, and you may not always like it. Too bad. Get over it. Keep your mouth shut, your kids are watching and learning. They always are.
Someday your kids will be the teenagers making the calls you don’t like, and while they look all grown up and mature, they’re still kids. And what you say may hurt them. Or scare them.
And when it’s not you but your coach, or a whack-job parent that is doing the scaring, don’t do nothing. Don’t sit idly by while your kid’s team continues a full barrage of threats and intimidation from both sides of the turf. Be brave enough to speak up, because you have the power to make it stop.
So go ahead and groan and heckle. Believe me, these kids can take it. They are unfortunately, used to it.
Bullying teenager referees is not a spectator sport.
But don’t allow an irrational coach to berate and intimidate my kid for a full two hours, then have some lowlife parent threaten to ‘shoot that kid in the head.’
Because if you do, I’m going to call the cops, and state board, and pursue your sorry ass to the fullest extent possible.
And I will absolutely blame the surrounding adults for not stepping in and doing something to make it stop.
That is all.
(This post originally ran on KathrynMayer.com)
About the author: Kathy Kate Mayer is a potty-mouthed, sometimes cynical storyteller, humorist, and activist sharing life as she lives it in Newtown, Connecticut. She is a recent, reluctant inductee to AARP, the co-creator of two quasi-adults and two wannabees, and an aspiring writer with the rejections to prove it. She writes about work, teenagers, midlife, social issues, feminism, and gun violence prevention at www.kathrynmayer.com, and is sometimes funny on Instagram and Twitter as @klmcopy. Follow her on Facebook, but please don’t be an ass.