My husband is a high school football referee. The high school football season in Missouri is winding down and play-off games begin in earnest this coming Friday, which will ultimately lead to the teams that will play in the state championships held in the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis in late November.
Usually, I attend the home football games for Rolla High’s Bulldogs as child #4 marches in the band(they’re an awesome band, by the way) and child #5 sings in the choir which traditionally sings the National Anthem before the home football games begin. Husband travels on his Fridays, in the late afternoons, to towns I’ve never heard of in order to referee high school football games. He does get paid for performing referee duties, which is a nice perk of the hobby. He is also evaluated during a game by an assessor who will meet with him after a game to point out what he did well and what areas he needs to work on. Did you know that, about referee assessors? Now you do!
This past Friday, Rolla’s game was out of town so I decided to go with my husband to Hermann, Missouri to watch him in action. He was to referee the game between the Hermann Bearcats(what is a bearcat anyhow? I don’t think one really exists in Nature!) and the Union Wildcats. Hermann is a quaint town, sitting high up on the banks of the Missouri River. It was founded in the 1830s by the Deutsch Ansiedlungs-Gesellschaft zu Pennsylvania (that mouthful translates to German Settlement Society of Pennsylvania!) Germans coming to Hermann had a goal to build a German community with agriculture, industry, and commerce being the three economic areas to keep the new community thriving. On a mini-tour of Hermann a couple years ago with my parents and oldest daughter, we learned that the German immigrants took note of the hills and the rocky soils and found it similar to the soils in Germany where vineyards thrive and so, with ingenuity and hard work, the new immigrants planted vineyards for their own families and the Missouri wine industry’s seeds were born. For more about Hermann and visiting this unique town, click on this link.
.Hermann’s high school is much smaller than Rolla’s. I didn’t realize that until the announcer asked the Senior football players, cheerleaders, band, cross country team members, and softball players to come to the field, and their parents were asked to go to the track. There were probably 25 Seniors to be honored-a much smaller amount than Rolla had on their Seniors Recognition Night. Despite being a smaller high school, they had the requisite artificial turf field that seems all the “rage” in high school football, a nice seating area for home and away fans, and a nice concessions kitchen and restrooms facility. The scoreboard was more high tech than Rolla’s; it was digital and it put the players’ faces, uniform numbers and playing positions up on the screen when they made a play. When Hermann scored or got an advantage in the game, their was a “bearcat roar” emanating from that scoreboard! I think it’d be cool if Rolla got a digital scoreboard, with a bulldog roar in it’s sound system. I don’t know what a digital scoreboard costs, but alert the Booster Club! If the Hermann Bearcats can have one, why not the Rolla Bulldogs??
As I watched the Seniors step out, one by one to be honored, I noticed that one of the senior cheerleaders walked stiffly to her parents, her arms held bent at a crooked angle, but a broad smile on her face. Her proud parents hugged her tightly as she reached their arms, and she gladly presented her mom with a small bouquet of roses. I knew from the girl’s stiff bodily movements that she had Cerebral Palsy. After the Seniors were honored and the cheerleaders gathered, I noticed that another one of the cheerleaders had Down Syndrome. I paid attention to this cheerleading squad and those two girls, despite their disabilities, did well. They kept up with their squad doing the cheers, they fully participated in all the cheers, even the fancier ones performed at the half-time show. They were both lifted up high by their fellow cheerleaders, when the squad formed two towers, lifting each girl up to the top, supporting them with their arms as each girl stood up, smiled, and waved their arms high. That formation brought much applause from the audience. Kudos to the Hermann Cheerleading Squad and its advisor(s) for letting these two young ladies be a part of the squad. In a society that fixates on the physically beautiful, or handsome, or athletic prowess, it was refreshing and joyful to see these two girls give their all to cheerleading and to be allowed that chance to be a part of a group. Later on in the game, a group of students in the bleachers decided to do a large group selfie picture and they made sure that those two girls were in the picture with them.
Hermann played a valiant game but lost to Union by a close score, 35-32. As I sat on the Hermann side in my non-Hermann colors(I wore a dark green jacket, which didn’t blend in with Hermann’s royal blue and white clad fans)I got to hear some annoying shout outs to the referees. “Put your glasses on!” “Are you blind?” There were numerous outcries about supposed facemasks, blocking in the back, passes that were really caught and not dropped. Those plays happened on the opposite side of the field from the side that the Hermann fans were sitting on, but of course, the very vocal fans saw it all clearly and were convinced that the refs were blind! One gentleman, in particular, kept yelling and yelling and yelling his advice. He’d yell it to the coach, to the refs, and to one player in particular, Cody. I didn’t know who Cody was. Maybe the yeller’s son or nephew or stepson or neighbor or godson? I do know, after telling my husband about the yelled comments during the game, not one of those utterances were heard. Not by the referees, not by the coaches, and not by the players. For all you parents out there, sitting in the bleachers watching your kids play football, your screams and yells aren’t heard!!! Your yells and screams will not miraculously make a team gel and win the game! Yell out the chants with the cheerleaders and with the band as they play the school’s fight song, but for those of us sitting in front of you, and for the good of the team you are cheering, stop yelling! They can’t hear you!!! Rest your vocal cords, please!
Lastly, for those who enjoy bashing the referees at a sporting event, would you be willing to train, take tests, and travel around your state to officiate at sporting events? Would you be willing to spend money on uniforms and whistles, shoes, hats, and the extra gas for your car? Would you be willing to walk a mile in a referee’s shoes? If not, then be glad that their are individuals willing to officiate, willing to work not only high school sporting events but the youth sporting events, too. Willing to give up time with their families to ensure that a fair as possible sporting event will be held at an area high school or youth sporting field. If you aren’t willing to be a referee, then keep your criticisms to yourself. Thank you!