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Letter to the Editor - Junior Jazz Refs

Article Date: 
21 January, 2011 (All day)


Just a few thoughts about the Junior Jazz program here in Morgan County.

From what I have seen, as both a coach(in years past) and a parent with 2 participants this year, it is a well run program and good for the kids. Parents step up to coach, and do their best to teach the basic principles of the game. The teams, at least in the girls divisions that I have watched, are about as even as you can get, with most games being played very close, and the ability of the players are spread out from team to team. I know both my girls are having a good time, and enjoy both the practices and the games. Thanks Coach Brian House and Dave Henry!

I would like to address the youth referee’s that officiate the games, members of the boys and girls high school basketball teams.  I think they do an excellent job! For nothing more than a doughnut and a small  carton of milk, they are in the gyms early on Saturday mornings to provide a great service to our community. Most of them have practiced hard all week, plus played two or more games of their own, and probably the last thing they would want to do is get up early on a Saturday and referee youth basketball.  If you know any of their names, check the honor and high honor rolls when printed in the news paper; chances are good that your refs are on it. I hate to think where we would be without them--- also,  who do you think would be officiating all of these youth games if not for our local high school ball players? I think we all know that the responsibility would fall to the adults of our community, and who among us feels competent enough to do 3 or 4 games every Saturday for 8 weeks? As much as I love basketball, I know I don’t!

I feel it is imperative for us as coaches, parents, and spectators to under no conditions or circumstances yell or malign these young referees if a call is “missed” , or from our perspective,  a wrong call is made. Shame on us if we allow ourselves to get so wrapped up in these youth games, that we find ourselves  yelling at these youth officials.  I would challenge anyone who thinks they have what it takes to be a ref, to get some training , and then volunteer their services in a local community or church league. I can tell you from experience that it is one of the toughest things you could do.

I have seen first hand, at almost every game I have been to this winter, these young refs take a player by the hand and teach them a basic principle of the game, like where to stand during a free throw , or a pass in bounds, or a jump ball, etc. They not only do their best to make the right calls, but  they also act as an extension of the coaches, who are not allowed to run up and down the court with the flow of the game and instruct on every little play. I am not saying that they are perfect, and never miss any calls--all referees make mistakes, and it’s not fair to expect a perfectly called game from any official.

          If you are involved in the Junior Jazz program in any way, I would encourage you to keep these games in perspective, cheer loudly for both teams, and set a good example for those around you.  And if you ever want to see someone smile, just walk up to a ref after a game, tell them “good job”, and shake their hand. You won’t be disappointed.

Bill Bateman