3 Reminders to Yourself Before You Yell at a Ref

By Janis Meredith | Posted 8/31/2020

Youth sports refs really haven’t changed much in the 25 years since I watched my oldest daughter’s first game. Over the years, I’ve seen refs who called way too much or way too little and many many many “bad” calls.

When my kids were playing youth sports, I often found myself yelling at the officials and saying some very negative things. The older the children got, the more I learned that what I was doing was not setting a good example and not solving any problems. By the time my kids graduated from high school, I’d calmed down a lot.

But last week as I watched my son-in-law’s varsity basketball team (he’s the assistant coach), I felt myself reverting back to my ref-yelling days. It was almost a default really. I felt the urge take over me again and I realized that honestly, I’m a recovering ref-yeller, and just like a recovering addict, if I’m not careful, it’s easy for me to fall off the wagon.

Officials are going to make us mad, it’s just part of the game. They will make mistakes –they are human, after all – and they will take comments from the crowd or the bench too personally. Parents and coaches will get ticked off; That’s a given. But the question is, how should we respond to the officials when that happens?

Handling the refs in a positive way takes a lot of self-discipline and self-talk. These are the things you need to keep telling yourself:

Officials are humans. They are not perfect, and they will not always make the right call. They really are trying to do the best they can.

Yelling “you suck” or “that’s a horrible call” is honestly a pointless thing to do. Sure, it may make you feel better, but in all honesty, they won’t even hear you. A good ref has learned to tune the crowd out.

You are setting an example. Will it be a negative one or a positive one? Although the officials probably don’t hear you, other parents and kids do. Think about what you are saying. Is that really how you want people to see you?

If you can keep reminding yourself of those three things every time you go to your child’s game, you will be on the right track to be a positive spectator.

You may “fall off the wagon” like I did last week but climb back on and do better next game.

As for me, I’m headed out to another game tonight and this time, I will remember that the refs are human, they will make mistakes and I am setting an example.

Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.