To the editor,
Football season is here, but my referee crew members and I will not work games at the field that I have worked at for the last 13 years. I have been a fixture on Franklin Township Youth Football for all that time, but as of recent was not asked back because of “inconsistency” and it did not look good with the board on how I handled the situation with an irrational fan.
Last season, a parent attacked three police officers and injured them. The policeman told us we did a great job getting the kids off the field and to their parents before things escalated any further. In over 20 years of officiating I have never seen an incident as such, when I heard the language, the threats being said I knew there was no compromising with this individual. The director of our first grade league said, “Stay back, let me handle it.” At that point, I knew I had to get the kids to safety.
As for inconsistency, by recall, when you’re working with first and second graders, you have to call the game according to the ability of all the players, not just the advanced players. It’s more instruction than competition. But like all leagues, you have parents and coaches that don’t see it that way. It’s win at all costs. I received an e-mail from the president of the league telling him where the meeting for officials would be and to please attend and discuss the upcoming season. Little did I know, I was walking into the hornet’s nest. I knew that the decision had been made already. The president who was the biggest supporter (of me) was not there and had resigned because of her children playing travel football. I made a presentation to deaf ears. Only one board member looked at me while I spoke about safety with emphasis on concussions. My other two crew members felt the coldness in the room. It was like someone had poisoned their minds about the incident when none of those people were there to witness it.
I am taking it in stride. Franklin Township Youth Football has the best league, with great kids. The kids are the best. They make me laugh, have a good time and enjoy football. The greatest thing about officiating is you get paid for something you enjoy. I don’t have any sour grapes about the decision, just the way it was handled. After the time I spent with all those kids, it makes me sad I won’t see all those that I refereed for. After my notification, my crew members and I are continuing to referee for other leagues. After 20 years, I am not giving up!
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