I’ll admit, I have hit on this topic a few times in the past and will probably not be bringing anything new or fresh to the table this time around, so I guess this column will serve as a …
I’ll admit, I have hit on this topic a few times in the past and will probably not be bringing anything new or fresh to the table this time around, so I guess this column will serve as a reminder more than anything.
The topic of the week: Treat the officials better.
Last Thursday night I covered the Cranston West versus Coventry boys basketball game. It was a great game from start to finish. It was a packed gym, a big divisional battle between two clubs that were battling for playoff seeding.
Long story short, the Falcons got the win in a very tight battle; it was a lot of fun to watch.
With that intensity, though, came some inappropriate behavior. There were a couple of skirmishes that nearly turned into fights, a lot of trash talk for all four quarters between each team.
Neither team really crossed the line, my point is not at all to wag a finger and shame the clubs for what happened. It was a close game between two competitive squads, it happens all the time and I would be lying if I said that I was not entertained. Although things pushed the envelope and maybe even went too far at times, I thoroughly enjoyed the passion. That is what makes watching sports fun.
However, I did feel bad for the officials who once again, had more on their plates than just calling the game in front of them.
I have been seeing ads everywhere trying to get people to step up and become an official. Even on the Rhode Island Interscholastic League website they have been trying to recruit locals.
As always, the numbers are not there and dropping, and I can’t say I blame those uninterested prospects one bit. Being an official is one of the most thankless jobs in the world and it is only getting worse by the day.
Last Thursday, the officials had to calm kids down left and right, deescalate confrontations and put an end to cussing and inappropriate language. Again, and I can’t stress this enough, what happened was totally normal for a big game, but the officials had their hands full for a modest-at-best paycheck. No thank you.
Then there are the other typical problems. Coaches complaining at every turn, fans chirping, players questioning decisions. Even people with the thickest of skin have a breaking point, we are all humans made up of the same DNA.
From the youth level on up, the lack of available officials is a massive problem. These leagues wonder why they can’t recruit people and why money is not incentive enough. Well, you are being paid a small check to be criticized, mocked and hung out to dry each time you step out there. I can’t tell you how many times at this point that I have had officials vent to me about this subject and how many guys have “retired” from wearing the zebra stripes due to the abuse. It needs to stop.
There is no easy way of solving this problem. The obvious solution is for better treatment at these events, but it takes all kinds to make a world and unfortunately, there will always been too many people that don’t get it. The numbers are increasing by the day and it will be impossible to curb.
The other solution will be to increase official pay, which is what I am advocating for here. There are obviously limited funds to go around, especially in local sports. I get that these leagues don’t have thousands of dollars laying around to dish out, but if they want to solve this problem, they’re going to have to pay up because then alternative is impossible.
That does not mean that we should not try to do better, though. For everyone’s sake, let’s remember to treat these officials with respect. We need them and not enough people recognize this.
Next up is boys hoops. I think we are in for a great tournament season at Beacon Communications.
Bishop Hendricken continues to roll and is locked in as the favorite for the Division I title and the open championship. Nothing new to report there.
Johnston, though, continues to dominate Division II and is undefeated and virtually untested within the division. Will the Panthers be able to compete with the Hawks, La Salle, Central when the open tournament starts? We’ll find out, and I am totally stoked for it.
At this point, it seems unlikely that the Panthers are knocked off in Division II. They have been the best team all season long and just added another starting-caliber player in Camani Batista. I think anything less than a division title would be an upset at this point.
It goes so much further than just the division if you ask me. Sure, Johnston lost to La Salle in a rather lopsided defeat earlier this year and needed its best shot to beat Smithfield. However, the Panthers have improved since them and added Batista. I really do believe this team could make a deep run in the open tournament, and I’m talking a potential showdown with Hendricken for all the marbles.
Then Cranston West. The Falcons have won seven of eight and five straight. Although they need a few more wins to qualify for the open tournament, things are looking up and I am rooting for that result.
Three of our teams in the open tournament? That would be tremendous to cover.
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