Youth football officials needed

Chris Whitbeck, supervisor of officials for the Sierra Youth Football League and Sagebrush Empire Pop Warner Football, says youth football in Northern Nevada is in desperate need of officials to work games this coming season.

"I have been trying hard to recruit new officials but seem to be just spinning my wheels," he wrote in an email. "We may have enough referees, I hope, for next weekend at the PWF Jamboree in Carson and the opening day of the SYFL season, maybe because there are only three high school games that day. After next weekend I can make no promises about having enough officials for the season. With the growth of both leagues and the addition in each league of a new lower division, plus the reduced number of officials from last year, we are in a bad situation."

Whitbeck went on to mention that he will be putting on one more officials clinic on next Tuesday, Aug. 30, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Washoe County Health Department in Reno.

So, there is there is the announcement of the immediate need for youth football officials. That said, I want to throw in my own two cents worth.

Would I be willing to go out on weekends and officiate youth football, or any other games? No way! Been there, done that, having officiated basketball myself for more than 10 years in the 1970s and '80s - at the youth, high school and adult levels. I put a lot of time and effort into the work. I didn't always make the right calls - then again, the best official is only right 50 percent of the time - but I took a lot of pride in trying to do a good job.

Officiating is a thankless job, to say the least, but that's to be expected. To a good official, gratification comes in looking back at the end of the game and seeing that the participants were able to participate in a fair contest and that they were able to do so safely. A good official doesn't need, or want, cheers.

At the same time, for officials to be harassed during and after the games is unconscionable under any circumstances. I've seen some bad calls down through the years - even saw one game-ending judgment call that determined the final score of a Pop Warner football game changed in Reno a day later - but I can't remember the specifics of any one of those incidents anymore. You know what, it doesn't matter. None of those calls changed the history of the world. Very few people truly remember the specifics of bad calls or even the games 10 or 20 years down the road. If they do, and if they're still bitter, they need to move on and get a life.

As a footnote, Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Assistant Director Donnie Nelson says there will be increased emphasis in all sports this coming year to try and reduce the use of profane language by players and coaches during games. By this time next year, a rule is expected to be in place that will penalize profane language.

Now, here's my point, and a possible solution to providing enough officials to cover all the youth football games in Northern Nevada. It's time to start handing whistles to the adults - coaches and fans alike - and let them make some calls. If they want the games to be played, they'll take those whistles.

I've seen coaches in other sports who have been willing to officiate. Good coaches are willing to do that because they're in it for the kids. Those coaches are not worried so much about their own win-loss records - which is the No. 1 priority to some - as they are about doing what's best for the kids.

The same holds true of the parents who come out to watch their kids play in the games. I have seen good parents, regardless of their knowledge of any given sport, who are willing to officiate and do the best they can to be fair.

Is my suggestion the ideal solution? Probably not. It would put officials on the field, and ultimately, getting out on the field with a whistle would help education some fans and coaches about the importance and difficulty of officials. Who knows, it might even educate them to the point of realizing officials are not out there to absorb the frustrations of adults on the sidelines.

Would I do it? No way! Would you? That's for you to decide.

n Contact Dave Price at dprice@nevadaappeal or call 881-1220


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