Let me preface this rant with a couple of facts…

  • I’m not very intelligent on a multitude of subjects – most of them are sports related. I’m not one for facts, statistics, historical numbers or what not. I’m simply a fan of sports.
  • I am extremely knowledgeable about one thing – officiating.
    • I have been an amateur, High School and Collegiate baseball umpire for 25 years. I have also trained, scheduled and managed youth umpires for 15 years.
    • I was a professional umpire candidate for two years, umpiring several minor league games in the early 1990’s.
    • I have worked thousands of youth sporting events.

So, most of the time on this blog, my opinion is simply that, my opinion.  Opinions can never be wrong, but they can certainly be discounted as ill-informed or uneducated.  Opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one.

There are very few topics where I can be considered an “educated expert” and dammit, I’ve finally found one.

The shit of it is, this take is about to slam on a person who I’ve started to like.

Here’s the story… on Tuesday’s “What’s Right with Nick Wright” radio show on 610 Sports, Nick Wright told a story about his weekend youth basketball coaching experience over the weekend.

The entire episode is podcasted on their website here.

The gist of it is that there was a younger referee and an older referee working his kid’s youth basketball game. I think he said it was 8th Grade Basketball.  The younger referee was “horrible.”  From the story he told, it sounds like he was pretty accurate in his description.  The ref gave Nick a Technical Foul for mouthing off and then later gave him a second technical for speaking to his team when he was restricted to the bench after the first techical.  (The rules Nick violated were likely league-specific, but the gist is that he mouthed off (in the eyes of the Ref) for the first T, and didn’t follow a procedure for the second T.  Two technicals results in an ejection.  However, the older ref stepped in and saved Nick’s execution and might’ve had a short discussion with the younger ref.

All of this is fine for discussion. It was an entertaining story and Nick’s co-hosts had a good time giving him some ribbing.  Ha ha, you almost got dumped from coaching kid’s basketball. Hee hee. That type of deal.

I was enjoying the story and wondering what the “full story” is since I’ve heard my umpiring efforts behind plenty of stories that start to take on “fish tale” bravado. That’s all fine. That’s how stories are told.

Then, Nick made a Cardinal sin. “I kind of want to say the guy’s name on the air because he was so bad.”

No. Nick. No… that’s a bad idea Nick…

His producer, Mark Carman encouraged him to do it after he heard how “bad” the official was. “After I heard this, Nick, I think you should do it.”

Nick then spoke the official’s name on the air.

Bad move, man. Unforgivable move.

Let me tell you why that’s such a stupid, classless move.

The issue goes well past how bad that official was. It goes to the very core of youth sports.  Youth sports are about learning. Youth sports are about being part of a team.

Youth sports are also about overcoming things that you cannot control.

Poor officiating, getting jobbed on calls are part of youth sports. The reasons are that the officials aren’t as good as refs you’re going to see in High School, College or the Pros.

You didn’t just call out one kid who might’ve been having an off night. You put into play your ability to attack ANY youth or amateur official in any sport.  You make public something that wasn’t yours to make public.

You made everyone who officiates, referees or umpires a youth event harder Tuesday.  You put them into play.

You should’ve showed some restraint and you clearly showed how uneducated you are about coaching and participating in youth sports.

I sincerely hope that you are reprimanded by your league and banned from coaching until you can insure that you’ll never make poor amateur officiating part of your show again at such a personal level.

There’s a LOT of bad officiating out there. And that’s regrettable. But your attempt at a joke, calling out this kid, make it that much less tasteful for other officials to keep working at their jobs.

As a coach or team official, it is your DUTY to notify the league that the ref is poor. It’s NOT your duty to notify the world.

Make fun of umpires. Identify why the officials made mistakes. That’s all fine. But once you make it personal, you cross a very dangerous line.

I don’t know a lot about many topics, but I know to the very core of myself that you fucked up Tuesday. You shouldn’t be allowed to coach again until you recognize that.