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Bad Sportsmanship of Another Kind

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bad Sportsmanship of Another Kind

Nico played basketball in the Wheaton North Tournament today. I said I wasn't going to write angry but I can't help it. I am still fuming. I know he is my son and I am biased but I am telling you, he is a competitive kid that plays hard but he plays fair. A lot is said these days about the sportsmanship of the fans and the parents but nothing is said about the sportsmanship of the referees. Believe me, I don't envy their job and for the most part, they do a nice job or the best they can in the fast paced game that basketball is. This post is about one referee and his unprofessional behavior. A referee is supposed to be impartial...someone that calls the game as it happens with no bias either way. That was not the case today. We won the game but I am disgusted by what I saw. I knew that there was a ref out there that didn't care for Leo or Nico. Leo coaches Nico's 8th grade feeder team and has coached this team for the last three years. That is how long this has been going on. I never paid attention to the refs and wouldn't really notice this one in particular until we were playing and I'd see Nico get calls that were odd and Leo get warned more than usual. Someone would say to me when I would question what was going on, "Well, you know, it's the ref that doesn't like Leo or it's the ref that has it in for Nico." We've always taught Nico in situations like that to do the best you can, keep your cool and be respectful so that it doesn't matter what the ref does. What happened today threw that thought right out the window.

I don't know what transpired between Leo, Nico and this ref to begin with to cause this rivalry but as soon as we all saw our referees, a feeling of dread came over us. For most of the game, it wasn't an issue until Nico went up for a shot, the ball went around the rim and didn't go in. I saw the frustration on Nico's face. One of his teammates got the rebound, shot and was fouled. I yelled out to Nico, who is very hard on himself, "Shake it off." The gym was fairly quiet and he turned to me and said, "I am." The ref asked Nico, "What did you say?" Nico answered, "I was talking to my mom." The ref called a technical foul on Nico and said, "We aren't going to play this today." We were all in shock at the call because it was so unfounded and out of the blue. Leo asked what happened and the ref said Nico said something about his (the ref's) mother (that is so ridiculous and proof that he doesn't know Nico at all.). The stands quieted as Leo tried explaining what really happened and even the coach from the other team told the ref that wasn't what happened. At one point you could see on the ref's face that he knew he had made a mistake and looked like he might apologize but instead, while the gym was dead silent because of what was going on, he yelled "Aw...he's always pulling this crap!" I could not contain myself any longer and yelled, "HEY!" My good friend K.T. and her mom both yelled out in disbelief. Had my good friend, J.J. not been there to stop me, I think I might have gotten myself kicked out of the game. How incredibly unprofessional to yell that in front of everyone there watching the game. I am appalled and shocked that this ref dislikes Nico so much that it clouded his better judgement and he behaved the way he did. If you have a problem with a kid, take him aside and talk to him.  Someone that does that should not be refereeing youth basketball games. I don't care if you don't like my kid, you don't single him out in front of the whole gym. If my kid deserves a technical foul, by all means, he should get one but he didn't deserve one and for this ref, in front of the whole gym to say that "he's always pulling this crap"? Are you freaking kidding me? He is a grown man! Nico is a 13 year old boy! Shame on him for this lapse in judgement and I'd love to know what "crap" he's always pulling because this ref is the only one that has a problem with Nico and I love him so I watch him the whole game and have yet to see "crap" he pulls other than playing hard. Leo, who normally is not known for keeping his cool when things are unfair, remained calm. I can see him not wanting to give this ref any other reason for targeting him and he said later, "How embarrassing for that ref to have behaved that way." I agree. The referees should not be the examples of bad sportsmanship.

I saw Nico talking to the ref at some point after it had happened and thought, "Okay, well he can't take away the T but at least he is apologizing." I asked Nico what he said and Nico said, "Nothing. I don't want any problems with him so I said I was sorry for what he thought I said and then he said, 'Good game.'" What?! Nico had nothing to apologize for. I am proud of him for taking the higher road and not wanting more problems in the future but are you kidding me? The ref was wrong. DEAD WRONG! The fact that he can't be man enough to admit it makes me sick that he is able to keep refereeing. It makes me sicker to think that he might be refereeing any of our games in the future. I hope that I can be like Nico and take the high road but right now I feel a little like a mama bear with her claws out. It was the big joke that the rivalry between this ref and Leo and Nico continues. Parents take a lot of heat about being unsportsmanlike. We even have to sign a form with the warning of "No tolerance." Do the referees have to sign anything? I'm sure they do and I am sure that this ref broke some rule and I hope that he is reprimanded for it. At the very least, Nico deserves an apology. I hope that when the ref goes to bed tonight, he knows he didn't get paid for being impartial and unbiased. He got paid for being a total jerk.

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