The spring sport season in Montana is wrapping up. This season for me has been an eye opening experience about the interaction between athletes, parents, and officials. Montana has had a shortage of people who are willing to referee sports. After seeing the interactions between them all, I can honestly say I can't blame them.

You Make at Least Half of The Fans Hate You

Most people don't like to be yelled at or berated and most of the refs, in my opinion, don't get paid near enough to put up with some of the abuse that is thrown their way. It is a difficult and thankless job being a referee. Depending on the outcome at least half of the people watching will not like you when the game is over.

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This Montana Sport Made a Change This Year

Montana High School Lacrosse this season implemented a new policy. If a parent yells at a referee, the referee will not engage with the parent, they will talk to the coach. If the coach can't calm the parent down, the team will be given a penalty. The penalty could totally change the game. If that happens, the only people who will be punished will be the kids. It seemed to have worked well.

Credit: Chris Wolfe
Credit: Chris Wolfe

Montana Refs Don't Care About Your Team as Much as You Think

I had the opportunity to speak with a couple referees this season. They had an interesting take. One ref from the East Coast, was talking about parents accusing him of throwing the game and showing bias. His response was "I have no idea who you are or what team your kid plays for. Why would I care who wins or loses. I try to call a fair game." Sometimes we forget that not everyone is as invested as we are.

Montana Travel Sports are Expensive

There is a lot that is riding on some of these games. Statistics can mean scholarships, or chances at continuing sports at a semi-pro or professional level. Travel and club teams in Montana can be very expensive. Some families and parents look at it like it is an investment. I heard one parent yell at a ref saying "I can't believe I am paying for this @#$%!". I admit when calls don't go my way, I get upset. I can do better.

Don't Abuse the Refs Montana

Regardless of the money involved, you shouldn't hurl abuse at the referees. We are better than that. If you think you can referee better, how about you get certified as a ref and then see what it is like from the other side. Eventually there won't be any referees. Then there will be zero chance your child can play sports at any level.

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