“It was a bad call”. Very convenient words when your kid is playing a sport, to blame it on the ref. When you’re a parent of a younger kid, that is your whole focus during a game, whatever the sport is, and if a ref makes a call that affects your son or daughter in a negative way, the ref is wrong, it’s that simple!
Honestly, during any of those earlier games if you had asked me how old the ref was, I probably couldn’t tell you because I didn’t care.
I can remember one incident when my son was about 9; he was playing little league, (no longer plays baseball, so that should tell you something) when a call was made against him that put him on the bench. I can’t tell you at this moment if it was a good or bad call, only that he was benched! I walked over to the umpire, told him exactly how I felt, even though this is not proper etiquette at a game, and didn’t realize till later that evening that the umpire was a kid himself, probably about my son’s age now, 15 or 16.
So let’s fast forward. Although my son continues to play soccer, he is also a ref for younger kids and I found it ironic that when he went for training it was explained that the hardest part will be the “unhappy” parent.
So needless to say, when I drove him to ref his first game, he was nervous – not about the game but about the parents. At that moment, I felt this overwhelming need to find the umpire I yelled at six years ago and apologize…
I simply said to my son, be fair, be respectful and try to understand that most parents can only focus on their own child, it’s not personal to you.
So now if I sneak in to watch a game he is reffing, I sit alone very quietly and just keep my eye on the ball and hope the ref makes the right calls but if he doesn’t, I am still and always should be just a parent on the sideline, no matter what side I am on.