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
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.