Everyone likes to blame the referees. When our team does well, it's because they played well. But when our team loses, it's all the referee's fault.
This week, Region 8 News Sports Director Jason Hurst shined an honest light on the grief Region 8 referees take on a regular basis and how it's leading to fewer referees willing to take on the headaches of calling local high school and other games.
Referees are human and can make a bad call every once in a while, but the real culprit is the parents.
One of the rites of passage for many parents is watching their child play team sports. Being a part of a team is supposed to show our children the value of working together. Team sports improve their athletic skills and teach the life lessons of winning and losing.
Until our kid is called out.
Whether they commit a foul or the umpire yells "out" on the run to first base, that's when the anger sets in. I think we've all witnessed parents take what happens with their kids during youth sports personally and in extreme cases perceive it as an attack.
And if we're honest with ourselves, at times we've been those parents.
Unfortunately, this is leading to responsible adults acting in anger and in extreme cases using violence to show their disapproval. It's a problem that goes beyond referees to coaches, other parents and even some kids.
It needs to stop.
Last summer Jonesboro Parks and Recreation put together a zero-tolerance policy for bad behavior. When kids sign up to play a sport, the player, parents, and coaches have to sign a code of conduct saying they will not behave badly at games.
It's kind of sad that we even have to have this rule. But it's necessary.
Being conscious of the problem, not taking everything so personally, and resolving disagreements with dignity sets the right example for our children and makes this A Better Region 8.
- Chris Conroy, KAIT VP & General Manager