Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Officiating, When Things Turn Ugly

As I begin this morning, I look up and see a message from host "Blogger" that "image uploads will be disabled for two hours due to maintenance at 5:00PM PDT tonight"...that would be 8PM for us in the Eastern Zone....probably a good thing, the image options have been a pain the ass for about 2 weeks of late, and I was wondering what was up...it appears I wasn't the only one having problems...what was usually a hour each morning that I posted, had become two hours, and I was getting perturbed to say the least...way too much time on the Internet for me.

This afternoon, I am off to Marion, Ohio, to hook up with my old friend Bill Clem...we will then head to Waldo, a few miles south, eat supper at the G&R Tavern, home of the World's Best Bologna Sandwiches(don't think store bought baloney)...then head another 25 miles south to Columbus to take in a Blue Jackets Hockey game...it's going to be well after Midnight by the time my head hits the pillow back in Celina.  The weather looks perfect...70 and sunny for today, it doesn't get any better than that.

Officiating, sometimes you wonder why?

I have umpired and officiated thousands of games over the past dozen or so years...I can count on one hand the number of times that I or one of my partners have been confronted following a game...it's never gotten physical so far...last night, for a brief moment, I thought all that was going to change.  {I will leave names and locations out of the remainder of the story, because frankly I'm not positive this has been totally settled but things are moving along}

On last night's occasion we had a 3 man crew doing a area 8th grade Junior High football game...and both teams were pretty good...long passes, big runs, and in general good offensives had us 3 in motion much of the game.  3 veteran officials, 2 of us who also had coached for many years, working a game where 22 young me were up and down the field...the game was close throughout, with neither team ever being ahead by more than 6 points.  We had called a handful of penalties, and of course both sides though we should have called more on the other team, especially the fans for the Blue Team, those folks were especially vocal.

The Green Team(Home) scores on a 40 yard play for a 4th down and 8 yards to go, with 1 minute and 6 seconds on the clock to take a 32-28...the points after touchdown fail, so Blue has a little over a minute and 3 time outs to work with.  A long tipped pass, gets Blue down to the 23 of the Green, and still 40 seconds to go...the Blue fans, most sitting between the 40 yard lines begin to move north towards the end zone they hope will see a score for their team.  With the ball on the 23 a pass is thrown towards the sidelines...a big offensive lineman in front of me holds and takes down a Green defender, I throw a flag, one of my partners tosses another  for a block in the back...Green takes the hold, and this moves the ball back to the 33....fast forward to the next play, and pass is intercepted by Green on their own 3 yard line.  This should end the game, Blue has just 2 time outs to work with.  Green takes a knee, Blue calls a time out...18 seconds remain...next play Blue tries to take a knee but the snap if fumbled and Blue recovers on about the 2 yard line...they have one time out and 12 seconds to work with.   This is where it gets interesting.....

Blue saves their last time out, since the clock is stopped for alternating possessions.  Blue runs off the left tackle, the runner is stopped at the 2 yard line...but I see an obvious hold on #86 of the Blue, and toss the flag...much to the displeasure of the Blue fans...in my opinion the hold was so wide open, I had no choice to call it...in retrospect, since the kid didn't score, maybe I should have let it go...but a hold it was....a time out and a play later Blue is back on the 4 yard line with 4 seconds to go...one final play coming up.

The Blue fans by this time are incensed.....a final dive towards the goal line, I watch my linejudge hold is spot...that spot is about a foot short of the goal line, game over, Green wins 32-28.  I knew that this was not going to set well with the Blue fans, although their coaches, did not complain, at least to us.  Gary, my linejudge calls Jim, the linesman and me over to the Green sidelines and tells us we need to stick around and leave together...as he noted, one fan in particular was having a big problem in the stands, both with his spot, and my final holding call....and that fan said he would see us after the game...as we walk off, there he was with about a dozen of his fellow Blue fans...on the field in the End Zone no less.

Now, I've been to war, I've been a Military Cop, I've been a bouncer, and I learned how to fight over the years...I might be 61, but I'm in pretty damn good shape for my age, haven't been in a fist fight for 35 years(since my managing the Red Door days), and wasn't planning on one with some irate fans...but you never know what will happen, and you better damn well be prepared for anything.

Hoodie Sweatshirt approaches, and begins his verbal assault.  "You cost our kids the game, that holding call was Bullshit, you're an asshole", etc, etc, etc,  Other fans were yelling in less colorful manner...finally as Gary, Jim, and I reach our vehicles, Mr Hoodie is in my face, so far I had not responded, but finally I say..."I've been around these games coaching and officiating for 40 years, I don't need to be told how to officiate"...he comes back, "I don't care, I'm a coach at Blue School and you're an asshole"....BINGO!  I look at him and ask..."You're a coach at this school"?  "And just what is your name"?  Mr Hoodie proceeds to give me his name!!!, That's all I need to proceed with this...a friend of his yells at him "Hoodie, let's go". WOW I think...if this guy is a coach, he's got some explaining to do....he was, and he will...

After getting home, I call the Green Athletic Director and after a few calls back and forth, we know that Mr Hoodie has already contacted the Blue AD...admitting his "mistake"...e-mails back and forth and the process has been set in motion.  How it ends is not my problem, or a major concern...the schools can work that out.

My big concern with the whole mess is...what if instead of 3 older officials in their 40s though 61, you had 2 or 3 young first, second, or third year guys?   Mr Hoodie would have been an intimidation factor...not so much with three old farts like us.  This kind of abuse is a reason we cannot get young guys to stick around the game...for the money($40 for lower level to $65 for Varsity games) you receive, the threats and verbal abuse is not something many young guys will put up with...I know what would have happened if this had been 20 years ago, someone would have been picking themselves off the ground and all Hell would have broken loose....I am much mellower now, and that's why I got back into officiating....but for other than love of the action and the games, I sometimes wonder why?

So that was PRH's exciting evening of activity...I came home, opened up a cold Sam Adams winter brew, took a shower, and watched the Yankees get pounded....Texas takes a 3-1 lead in that series(but never count New York out), while San Francisco, a 3-0 winner over the Phillies, takes a 2-1 lead in the NLCS.

Report on the Hockey Night in Columbus on tomorrow's blog...back later>>>>

PS-I'm sure "Riff Reff" will have something to say about last night on his "Official View" blog...click on Riff on the right side later for that take.

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