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Game Officials in Short Supply for High School Sports
A Sunday investigative piece in the Sunday Boston Globe revealed high school sports officials in Massachusetts are dwindling and, according to the story, abusive parents are a big part of the reason why.
Reading the story, I couldn't help but harken back to my own days as a high school baseball umpire and feel a complete lack of surprise at the notion that people don't feel like dealing with abuse for a few bucks.
Several of my friends were also umpires; we all have our stories. I remember a coach who screamed incessantly at any call that did not go his way. He felt justified in his behavior because, as umpires, we were the only ones at the field "getting paid."
Presumably, this man deals with numerous professionals in his life who draw a paycheck in situations where he is not, from servers at restaurants to nurses in a hospital. I shudder to think that his outlook leads him to think he has carte blanche to browbeat any of them indiscriminately if their performance does not live up to his standards.
I've been followed to my car, cursed at, you name it; we all have. For every incident that leads to a brawl or an arrest and garners media attention, there are plenty of situations that stop just short but are still, at best, uncomfortable and might have escalated had not at least one cooler head prevailed.
In the Globe story, a soccer official describes quitting after one particular abusive encounter with a fan. For me and my friends, it wasn't as dramatic. One-by-one, we just became interested in other things and had little need for a part-time job that paid little and could result in someone challenging us to a fight.
I get it, sports can be emotional and people are protective of their children. They want them to succeed and if someone is standing in the way, even in their own minds, their reactions can be over the top.
But fans who feel compelled to act out should remember that most officials are former players. Some of them haven't suited up
in decades while others, like my friends and I, were still playing or had just "retired" from youth or high school sports. So the teenager being defended could soon become the next browbeaten official.




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