Hulne: As playoffs approach, be mindful of coaches and refs

Published 12:32 pm Thursday, February 15, 2024

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Coming home after a hard day’s work for a family dinner and relaxing evening is one of the greatest rewards that life can offer.

But for some, those days are few and far between, depending on the time of year. For high school coaches and referees, they often end their work day with another work day. After working a day job that includes plenty of stress and fatigue, those coaches and refs will try to grab a quick bite to eat while hustling to the venue of their upcoming sporting event.

For referees, they put on a striped shirt that may as well have the words “yell at me” or “tell me how to do my job” written on the front and back. They wear a whistle that keeps the game in control, but also invites arguments and shouts.

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Coaches won’t catch as much grief as referees during a game, but in the age of social media they are subject to online attacks and vicious e-mails. Sometimes that backlash has led to coaches stepping down and walking away from a position they love.

For coaches, the work also goes well beyond game nights. They spend large portions of the offseason working with players and gameplans, and they have to work to find scouting reports of their opponents. But beyond the game itself, coaches must foster relationships with players and their families and make sure everyone understands what their role is. Coaches must assemble a never ending rubik’s cube that balances coaching, mentoring and family.

When you count the total hours worked, most high school and youth coaches are definitely not in it for the money alone. They’re trying to give back to the community and they want to teach life lessons.

Although the phrase “my coach had it out for me” is an old cliche, coaches do not have enough time in the day to sabotage any individual players and no coach would willingly hurt their own team by benching a player, simply because they don’t like them.

It’s not easy to balance a roster as a coach or call a game as a ref, so of course there will be mistakes. Those mistakes should be met with understanding, not unruly screams.

As we draw closer to the postseason and the games get bigger, these coaches and refs will be under more scrutiny than usual. If you are a parent of an athlete, please remember that many of them are sacrificing time with their families to make sure your kid can have the opportunity to play the sport they love.