For over 35 years, I avoided any interest in sports whatsoever. I literally would not stay in a room where a ball game was playing on a TV. It just wasn’t part of me and I wasn’t missing out on a thing. Then my son turned 8 and his interest became infectious in a way I’ll never explain. Learning sports through him, as an adult, has become a fun hobby and connection. Watching his games is one of my favorite activities now.
One thing I’ve noticed is how referees and principals are pretty similar. We’re both there doing a job for the kids (or players) and the spotlight is on them, but we’re supposed to be watching for rules and keeping everyone inside the lines. People love or hate us, there’s not much space in between. And that love, or hate, is based simply on the view from where one sits. Refs and principals have to know the game and make just calls quickly. We usually do it well, but sometimes we don’t see all the angles. We don’t have the view from the bleachers just like the audience doesn’t have the view from the court. And always, one of those views is incomplete. Sometimes it is the ref or the principal, because we are people too.
Just this weekend, a ref came to the stands I was sitting in and asked for the parents of a player. The parents around us shook our heads, not knowing who or where those parents were. We all assumed the kid was at risk of being ejected if the ref was coming over. Then the ref told us he needed to apologize because he’d made a bad call on their son. Sometimes calls can’t be taken back, but a caring person acknowledges, apologizes, and moves on. That’s how we learn and serve. Nice job, Stripes!