A new goal: Stop blaming the refs for everything | VailDaily.com

A new goal: Stop blaming the refs for everything

Chris Freud
KRISTIN ANDERSON |

High school golf tees of on Monday.

It is one of my favorite sports because I play obsessively and generally stink on ice — my driver is not working, and it’s certainly not operator error — and because I love talking to our guys about how they play, even Aspen’s Will Hazen, who I think finally graduated. (It seemed like Vail Mountain’s and Vail Christian’s arch nemesis was in high school for at least six years.)

I forget which year it was, but Battle Mountain’s Tanner Crisofulli drove the green on No. 5 at Eagle-Vail during a tournament and two-putted for birdie.

Freud’s response: “You drove the green? You …” The rest really can’t go into the paper.

I’m just happy to get over the Eagle on that hole and then we go from there. (Stupid driver.) All these kids are like this. “I hit a 9-iron 180 yards.” (My response again is not suitable.)

Another interesting thing about golf is that it’s pretty much the only sport where a player calls a penalty on him or herself. Hit the ball twice in a swing? Penalty. The ball moves after you address it? (Hello, ball — OK, bad joke) Yes, that’s a penalty.

You’ve got no one to blame, but yourself.

This is an important lesson for all participants and fans, read parents of student-athletes, as we get going with high school sports. Penalties, fouls and bad calls are going to happen this year.

Deal with it.

A new goal

Last year, I wrote a column about how coach turnover was surprisingly high and talked about how our community, like just about every other place in this country, has a tendency to blame the coach for a team’s shortcomings rather than, say, the actual athletes, who really control the outcome of an event.

All four schools seemed to do a pretty good job of minimizing coaching comings-and-goings. So this year, it’s time to lay off the refs.

I know that some officials are better than others. I know there are places where the officiating is screwy — say like soccer in Glenwood Springs or basketball in Delta or Soroco.

The bottom line is that ref is doing the best job he or she can do. They don’t have a hidden agenda against a team. They’re trying to do their best not to be noticed, the sign of a well-officiated contest.

Teaching by example

From a coaching perspective, there is the art of working a ref. I get that. But when a coach turns his or her focus entirely on the ref, the team tends to follow. (By and large, coaches get this.) It doesn’t help when Mom and/or Dad is screaming at every call.

When all of this happens, the student-athletes start playing the refs, instead of their opponents. That doesn’t end well.

Of course, parents love their kids. Of course, parents are invested in how things go on the field, the court or whatever playing surface. I know the miles you drive all over this state. (No, I don’t have kids, but my mom gets upset when she reads an angry letter to the editor to the Vail Daily on our website. You should have seen what she did to the kid who was throwing sand at me at the playground when I was a tyke. I understand the parental bond.)

But not only is harping on the refs unproductive, it sends the wrong message to the student-athlete. Not to sound like a broken record, but high school sports are just another learning environment.

If they really are wrong calls — and parents or fans have to admit that sometimes they’re a little biased — well, bad breaks happen. Sports are a way of teaching student-athletes to overcome adversity.

A call in a game isn’t going to be the only time in a kid’s life that something bad is going to happen to him or her. Life is unfair a lot of the time. How you deal with it is often the measure of a person.

That’s what the student-athlete is learning in sports.

Keep that in mind when you go watch the Devils, Huskies, Gore Rangers and Saints this year.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.