THE STRIKE ZONE
Sometimes Sports, Sometimes Sportsmanship
Even though I've given up on the Sporting News based on the content some of their writers produce, an article was brought to my attention from Australia's version of the site.
Blake Austin is a professional rugby player in Australia. Back in August, as he was playing for the Canberra Raiders, a fan decided to spit in the direction of a referee, which caused the fan to be ejected and receive a 12-month ban from the stadium. Austin went on record denouncing the act.
"I think everyone needs to respect the referees a little more. We can't have games of footy without them. But that act is certainly not on and that's someone's father and someone's son. I certainly wouldn't want anyone spitting on me as I'm coming off the field. As a club we don't support that at all."
Now, translate that to every sport, and think about how most sports cannot exist without officials.
That Blake Austin is a smart dude.
Back in March, Dr. Stewart Cotterill wrote an entry in his blog about the detriments of abuse of sports officials. The best part, however, was that he used scientific evidence to back his claim about how ridiculous it is to abuse officials.
Dr. Cotterill first praised an 18-year-old soccer official for leading a "strike" of officials who were tired of being abused. Over 2,000 local officials in the United Kingdom refused to work as part of this movement to protest the abuse they take on a regular basis.
Cotterill threw his support behind these officials by using sound reasoning and a scientific experiment he conducted while studying sports psychology to further prove why disagreement with officials does nothing but "shoot yourself in the foot."
Cotterill's first example of his support was summarized by the fact that officials rarely, if ever, reverse a call which may bring disagreement from players or coaches. The study he ran on the subject involved working with the university rugby team at his home turf of the University of Gloucestershire. Throughout the course of a match, he encouraged the entire team to be respectful of the officials and to not argue with officials. As such, the opposing team began to dispute calls, and eventually the close calls began to go in favor of his rugby team. Now, officials are taught to be fair and just and never favor one team or participant over another, so the argument seems to go against the training of good officials. But officials are human; and no matter how much an official tries to do his best, it is certainly possible that the psychological subconscious begins to activate in a way that causes calls to go in favor of a well-behaved team.
Cotterill goes on to list other reasons to support his cause, such as discussing how harboring the negative emotions towards officials causes those negative emotions to manifest in a way that detracts from the skills and performance of the athlete. In short, getting upset at an official will make you play worse. He also references the fact that athletes have no control over how officials do their job, so spending any time worrying about the behavior or officials is a waste of energy and will also subsequently detract from the performance of the athlete.
It's nice to know that people like Dr. Cotterill are on the side of the officials. Now if only more people understood the importance of his argument...
Baseball player, umpire, coach, fan; professional musician; founder, President & CEO of The OSIP Foundation, Inc.