By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator
“There is a perception out there that refs just don’t care, that we show up, get paid, and go home. The fact of the matter is, officials care about the game — that’s why they got involved in the first place,” said Kyle, a football and lacrosse official of more than 15 years in Manitoba.
“Just like everyone else, we have families, jobs, and other commitments that we are taking ourselves away from to work a game. We do this because we love the game and want to give back.”
The Negative Comments Stick
Kyle has played the game and can understand the emotion competition brings out of people.
“Things have been said that I’m sure people regret or are embarrassed about after the fact. We are all human. I just hope we can see the human aspect of it all next time we are at a sporting event.”
In his experience as an official, Kyle remembers numerous occasions where he’s been in an unpleasant situation.
“I couldn’t count the number of times we’ve been called unpleasant names from the crowd, the coaches or the players. I have been approached in parking lots after games, being told that I cost someone the game, that I don’t know the rules, that I am a disgrace and that I should be embarrassed of myself.”
“As officials, we try our very best to stay un-phased by it all and ignore the comments. At times, we’ll laugh about it after as a way to cope. But at the end of the day, we are human, and that kind of abuse will affect everyone differently.”
A New Direction for New Officials
For young Manitobans who are new to officiating, Kyle is concerned about how those negative experiences could affect them, and ultimately, the sport itself.
“It’s the kids starting out that I worry about the most, because they’re just kids, and they have adults trying to bully them into making calls and decisions. They are the future of our sport, and if we don’t give them the room to grow and develop as officials, we could be chasing away people that could develop into excellent officials.”
How you talk to and treat officials makes a difference in the sport community.