Lacrosse Fans In B.C. Ordered To Stay Quiet

Below is an article from the Canadian Press that I was referred to. It talks about the escalating problems with parents in Minor Sports, and more importantly the inability to maintain young referess. My applause to Port Coquitlam, B.C. for this initiative. Maybe we all could learn a little from it.

By The Canadian Press

PORT COQUITLAM, B.C. – Lacrosse is a rough game but a Metro Vancouver lacrosse association says referees shouldn’t bear the brunt of the aggression.

So the Port Coquitlam Minor Lacrosse Association has declared “silent stands” during five games this season, meaning fans can’t yell, cheer or even clap.

Head referee Craig Labranche said it’s hoped the silence will reduce stress on players but the measure is primarily aimed at stemming the abuse heaped on young, inexperienced referees.

“They leave the game because of the abuse,” Labranche said. “That was the probably the initial reason we did it, is for respect to the referees and to give them a night off from being harassed.”

Labranche said many sports, such as lacrosse, hockey and soccer, have trouble keeping young referees because they quit rather than endure jeering from unhappy fans.

Two games have been played under the “silent stands” rule and three more are scheduled Thursday night.

Association president David Clarke said the purpose of the games is to raise awareness of the behaviour of parents and fans, and how it affects the players and the young referees.

In the 10 years he’s been involved in minor lacrosse, Clarke said he’s seen the behaviour of parents deteriorate.

“Unfortunatley, I’d have to say it’s escalating, not to the violent point but I think with all of us working 50 hours a week, 60 hours a week, for some reason people tend to think this is a good place to get your stress out, everything that upset you – the ride home and the traffic,” he said.

Minor sports leagues all over are having trouble keeping teenaged referees involved, Clarke said, and “no refs, no games.”

“We needed to do something,” he said. “You toss out the odd parent and it seems like they’re always getting replaced by another irate parent.”

He heard of a league in the U.S. doing this and decided to give it a try.

No specific teams, or parents, were targeted by the silent games. They were randomly chosen to raise awareness.

The referees at the first two games were very positive about it, he said.

“The refs are kids, too, and they going make mistakes. We need to focus our efforts on the kids’ enjoyment of the game,” Clarke said.


1 Comment

  1. I think it is a good initiative because some parents do get a little bit out of hand. I have been told by a parent that she’s going to “shove that whistle down my throat”. This was at a grade 7-8 co-ed volleyball tournament. I see two issues with this situation (well, many more, but two glaring ones). One, it’s volleyball. I don’t think I’ve ever seen violence at a volleyball game. It’s pretty tame. And two, what kind of example are you setting for these CHILDREN as an adult? I’ve had numerous occasions in vball reffing where parents will console their teenagers after a game, telling them it’s not their fault that the referee doesn’t know what she’s doing, or that you never should have been thrown out of the game for rude conduct and cursing at an opposing player loud enough for the entire gym to hear.

    That being said, no matter what sport you officiate, you have to have a thick skin. Period. While I don’t condone the actions of fans or players being rude to officials, I think that you had better have enough confidence in yourself and be strong enough to take some criticism and get yelled at now and again. Most of the stuff I get yelled at for in volleyball reffing is because people just don’t understand the rules and don’t get why I blow a whistle. I would say that especially in a game such as lacrosse, you had better be confident enough and strong enough to take some flack from the audience because it’s an intense sport and people are bound to get excited. I’ve seen officials come and go over the years in vball, and the common denominator in all of the officials that have been retained is that they are willing to learn to be a better official and can take some heat.

    I think, however, that while it is the responsibility of players and the audience to give respect to officials, the officials, although young or new, are responsible for understanding the rules. As you grow as an official, you should be better able to explain rule interpretations, but as a young official, you should be aware the rules and be able to recognize when an infraction occurs. This is not always the case, and if the officials don’t even take the time to understand rules, they probably won’t last long as an official anyway, even if the stands are silent.

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