Expert Referee Steve Wells offers a fresh look at youth football from an officiating perspective. In his latest article, he discusses how each game should be officiated:
When I was a young youth football referee, I asked my White Hat (what we the crew call the Referee) the best way to approach the game. “Every game is the Orange Bowl” he said.
What I found frustrating as a young official and frankly as I got older were “mercenaries.” I do recommend officiating your favorite sport to all High School and College Students as a way to avoid a real job in College and stay in the game. Besides if you are good at being a referee, you might even make it to the NFL.
The problem with wisdom is that it only comes with experience. So treating “Every game as the Orange Bowl” resulted in a young man being a little over-officious. You’ve had that guy – the guy who is trying to enforce the numbering rules for lineman in an 8 year old flag game. I never did that, but I feel sorry for some of the ends in 10 year old games who endured some of my holding calls.
One day it clicked. And I have a better way to explain it to young officials and coaches. Everyone knows the Vince Lombardi quote, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” Well, like it or not, until you are in the Orange Bowl, The Super Bowl or any other Bowl game, it is ALL practice.
Some players, coaches, and officials think they only have to prepare for “big games”. Well that game on Saturday at 1 PM between the Chesterfield Giants and Salem Church Cowboys Pewee team IS the biggest game at that moment for the players, coaches and officials involved.
Youth and High School athletics deserve that same approach. None of us are going to get everything right, but that is part of the learning process.
Of the 22 players on the field anywhere on any Saturday afternoon, it is a safe bet none will even play past High School football. The same is true for the Referees.
At that moment, that place, that time – That game is the Orange Bowl.