Sportsmanship – on the field and in the bleachers

August 17, 2009

Wow this is a  tough topic!   It’s unfortunate that we ever have to be “police” on the field – but it does happen.  A game with bad sportsmanship can sometimes make for the worst games to officiate.  I believe that sportsmanship should be a required class for parents, athletes, coaches and officials.   In my opinion playing  and/or winning with respect for yourself and the other team is really how sports should be played.  Behind player safety – sportsmanship is key for officials to monitor.

Sportsmanship should start with

  • players
  • parents
  • coaches

Many times we see and hear coaches and parents pushing the thought that ‘winning is everything’.    I am not saying that this is always the case – but if coaching staff does not control their players when these situations happen, the officials will have to keep a tight lid on this or it will cause issues during a game.  I agree that a team should always try their very best to win each and every time they participate – however having respect for other players is also very important.

Bad sportsmanship is one thing that can cause a game to get out of control.  So as an official it is very important to watch for actions that can lead to issues on the field:

  • Taunting – celebrating after a score or long play
  • Late hits – in or out-of-bound plays – but especially out-of-bounds plays
  • Possible fighting, physical contact or name-calling

Keys for officials

  • Excessive celebration; control this by flagging celebration when it happens.  Flagging it sends a message to players that it will not be tolerated.
  • Out of bounds play:  Communication before the game, and during the game and worked in a wedge.  The back judge is always helping the line judge or head linesman – by angling in to a play to help control any activity on the sidelines; especially when a single player goes into the other sidelines’ bench area – help get the player out of that situation and watch all activity as a group of officials.
  • In bounds play – watch for the late hits and control this right away.  Do not tolerate this ever.  Keeping this controlled can help keep a game in check. Communicate to the captains and  coaches if you have any late hits.  Give a coach a player’s number and ask the captain and coaches to help control their players.
  • Side line warnings – many officials tend to let this go.  If you have a problem with your sideline/coaches – be firm but fair.  Warning  and flagging the sideline early in a game can usually make for a better sideline.
  • Parents out of control.  Wow – toughie – yes parents have the right to ‘get into the game’ and yes we do make mistakes as officials.  But if a parent is way out of control – ask the coach or inform the AD that a parent needs to be controlled or removed.  Do not be afraid to do this.  This is typically not an issue at a varsity game – but at lower level games it can be many times.
  • Lastly – fighting of any kind can never be tolerated.

Hope this information has been helpful.  Feel free to leave a comment or question any time and I’ll get back to you…

Well here’s a 5 yard delay of game penalty until next time.