Volunteers? Not If You Are Getting Paid, But Hey Mom and Dad, You Give It A Rest Too

Over the last few days I’ve read a fair bit on the Fan Forums here in Ontario about problematic parents, timekeepers not doing a good enough job, and everyone pointing fingers at everyone else. So I thought that rather than get critical of others I would throw in my two cents on where I stand on this. And I hope that others will share their thoughts. I don’t want this to get into a name calling, center someone out kind of ordeal, but I think it can be good discussion if people give opinions and thoughts without getting emotional or making things personal.

In a Minor tournament, I was able to decipher that a time keeper was stuggling keeping up with a game filled with penalties. The young man was clearly upset at the vocalization made by some parents of one team in a particular game (which would upset me as well). And of course the parents of the team were stating that they simply wanted the clock to be operated fairly and accurately ( a reasonable expectation given the $500+ being paid to play in the tournament).

After scrambling through the muddied waters and seeing all of the posts and comments from many folks, I decided to write up on here and give my thoughts, and ask others for theirs.

First and foremost, moms and dads; you need to settle down. As much as I have always been an emotional person behind the bench, in the stands, and everywhere lacrosse is being played, I think that a barrage of insults against a young kid getting their community service hours is totally offside and uncalled for. And yes, I was not there, but I know how it can get. A more appropriate stance would be to go ask for the Convenor, as there is one in every Arena at every tournament. I think somewhere along the line, we all need to remember we are role models for our kids, and we are representing the city or town we come from when we are at these tournaments. As hard as it might sometimes be, we do have to act like adults here and let the kids be the ones to act like kids. This, I know is a big challenge, because I myself have always been one that believes in fairness, and if my team is getting wronged, then I feel the need to speak up. But just remember, long after the games are over, what memories do you want to your child to have? Swimming in the pool and the barbecue with their team mates while at the lacrosse tournament, or mom and dad, hanging over a railing, berating a kid a couple of years older than their brother or sister?

With all that said, I guess I have a bit of an issue with the tournament organizers assigning a time keeper to do a game without paying them. There certainly could have been other functions that would allow this young man to get his hours in and help out in other ways. A time keeper is a minor official in the game. The referees are in control, and the time keepers are the responsibility of the referees. If the time keepers are volunteers or have not been properly trained, you are potentially adding and undue pressure now to the game, the referess, and the time keepers themselves.

I was at a tournament already this summer where every time the ball touched the floor the shot clock was reset, and many times the clock would not be reset after a shot on goal. The defending team would then begin up the floor with the ball, and about 10 seconds up the floor, the shot clock would buzz. It was not a good scene and took way too much of the official’s attention away from the game. Tournament organizers need to understand that time keeping is a huge responsibility and they are just as important as the referees to a lacrosse game.

A case in point to demonstrate the importance of time keepers in a game can be found by following this link. It is a post I made during the 2007 OLA Lacrosse Festival where a Peewee team from Oakville was sent home from competition, after a time keeper wrote a goal on the game sheet for Oakville, but also wrote the exact same goal on the sheet for their opponents from Arthur. The game needlessly went to Overtime and Arthur won it, and advanced on while Oakville who actually won, was going home. Specifically, read the third and fifth comments, which explain how everything occurred. That is a little tough to swallow, but it happened and it should not have.

With the amount of money we all spend each summer to give our kids the fun and enjoyment of playing lacrosse, I think some of us sometimes demand perfection. Well perfection is impossible. Some parents need to still understand and be reminded of that. But at the same time, I do agree that we should be able to expect trained personnel at a game we are paying for. I do expect that the guy changing my oil at Walmart (making close to the same amount as the time keeper I might add), knows what parts of my car to handle, and put back when he is done. If he does not, he is held accountable.

Yes it is only a game, but when individuals are being paid they are no longer volunteers; it is their job. Maybe a part of the issue is that the people assigning the time keepers and referees are volunteers and do not necessarily have enough time to devote to proper assignments. Could that be the problem?

I do not condone the actions of many parents, and I have seen some really interesting ones in my years, but give me qualified people.

Your thoughts and comments are welcomed…..but remember, please keep it as discussion and opinions only or it will be removed.



  1. I agree lets get good people.
    We were at the chuck miller classic this weekend.
    Our first two games were done by a teenage boy and girl at the same time.
    They were either talking or on there cell phones most of the games and a lot
    of things were getting missed, resets, incorrect time for penalties.
    Come on organizers you don’t have to think about that one very hard to know
    that has a lot of potenial for mistakes.
    In saying all that we had a great time and the officials could have been a whole lot
    worse. But they also could have been better.

  2. Maybe a little responsibility should be directed back to the referees. If the timekeepers are, or appear to be, a little overwhelmed, then the refs should stop the clock and talk it over with the timekeepers. The majority of the screaming comes as a result of the 30 second clock. If the on floor officials notice this, they can explain to the scorers that the clock is only to be reset when the official makes the reset motion with his hand from the floor. The refs usually only do this after a shot on goal (if at all), but if they do it all the time, even after a change of possession, then the scorer can concentrate solely on the referees. Also, a little explanation to the timers can clear up some misconceptions and only takes a couple of seconds. The onus gets put back onto the referees, where it should be.

    As for scorekeeping, I posted this the other day on the OLRA forum. Have a read and see what you think and maybe talk to your RIC.

    Will this stop the yelling. No. Why? Well, because even though 95% of those sitting in the stands never have played the game and couldn’t throw or catch a lacrosse ball for the life of them, they KNOW THE GAME! They know the rules backwards and forwards. It’s just the ref’s and the timekeepers who aren’t calling the play correctly. Perhaps there should be a response to these fans like what was done to my mother back in the ’70’s after her usual loud tirade towards the ref’s. One of them stepped over to the stands, handed my mother his whistle and asked if she would like to run on the floor and call a better game them him. It shut her up and those around her and the only thing you could hear in the arena was me laughing out loud from the bench across the floor.

  3. Steve,

    Great comments. Although I am not sure of your suggestion of the referees keeping score, it is an idea that can be explored.

    But the comment about mom and the ref offering his whistle is a classic.

  4. There is no argument that those performing officiating duties should be doing their best. That should never be debated.
    What I see as the biggest problem is that adults ( spectators) feel they have a right to abuse these officials. They call them idiots, morons, tell them they shouldn’t be allowed to perform that job.
    I would like to ask any of those same adults if they would accept that type of behavior from their own ‘bosses’ or if they would allow someone to speak to their child in that manner?
    Respect is not a right. It has to be earned. If you want your children to grow up respecting the game of lacrosse and other people, then lead by example and show them how mature respectful adults should treat others whether they be a 16 year old time keeper or a paid referee.

  5. Marksy – great topic! Keep bringing issues like this one up. Some who read this may immediately dismiss the idea but it is one that works becasue I have used it as part of a large international minor hockey tournament.

    The year prior to being given the title of Tournament Director (token figue head at best!) we had an incident where a parent physically confronted an on-ice official because little Johnny was kicked out for a Checking from behind call. After the incident, many of the officials were reluctant to continue because of the perceived lack of support from us as tournament organizers. The end result of the experience lead to the following rule –

    “Any player, coach, manager or trainer found to be abusive toward ANY PLAYER, TOURNAMENT OFFICIAL, OR VOLUNTEER will be expelled from further tournament participation. Further, any attempt by any team official, player or parent to verbally or physically intimidate any player, tournament official or tournament volunteer may result in expulsion from the tournament of the entire team. This decision will be made solely by the Tournament Director and will not be negotiable once made.”

    We have used the rule once (becasue of a parent towards a player (child) on the opposing team) and kicked the team out of the tournament without any refund. We enforce the rule by forcing every team to review and sign a copy of the rules when they submit their application for entry into the tournament. The threat of complete expulsion has a wonderful sedating affect on the parents and they begin to police their own behaviour.

    Just my thoughts and experience. Can’t wait to see the responce to this one!


  6. Hey guys,

    I just have to say – the parents were yelling “clock” and got lambased for being “classless” – no one called him any names or anything like that.

    The yelling of “clock” was to the ref as much as to the timekeeper – in the last minute of a tie game when the shot clock ran down and we had possession when the play hadn’t even been blown in yet.

  7. Each team supplies a qualified parent to run the 30 sec / timekeep.
    Just like in field lacrosse. This way fans will not be yelling at thier
    own 30 sec / timekeeper. You also have a rep from your team making
    sure there are no extra goal errors !!

  8. Having been on both sides of the ball( ref ,coach , player, game official ) I do beleive the gentleman a couple of posts ago has the right idea . Tourney or all lseason rules should include a clause that requires parents that have cuased a team to be penalised because of their behaviour , to have those same parents man the clock or scorecard for a game or that team is further penalised. The old saying about not criticiizng until you walk a mile in my shoes rings true here. Or for that matter certifying adults from each centre to fill these positions or the game doesnt start. Beleive me a small gesture of $20 a game towards these stafff members goes a long way . I know of 2 centres now that pay their game staff ( Jr ball) and that most of that money is spent on 50/50 and Hot dogs .

  9. What I mean by qualified is that the team has to have persons that attended a league sponsored clinic to establishe common protocols to be employed at every game in order to achieve consistency , The game staff on hand must show proof of quals to the ref before the game can start , they do it for trainers why not game staff.??

  10. Let’s set some things straight. What started all this is a young kid “claiming” he was harassed and yelled at? The reason I say, “claiming” is, because while waiting for then next game to start I saw this game. In no way was this kid harassed or yelled at. As matter of fact this same kid states in a post much later that he may be biased due to Innisfil laying a beating on his Caledon boys. So let’s be fair here, I think he may have a grudge and used a public forum to get back at them.

    I am tired of hearing when mistakes are made, people quickly say “but I’m just a volunteer”. The fact of the matter is, whether you are paid to do the job, or you volunteered, you should understand what the requirements are for the job, do it properly, and be prepared to be held accountable.

    I have been involved in lacrosse (timekeep, tournaments and executive positions) andthere are lots of parents that I know who could run clocks and complete the game sheet properly because they have been trained. Maybe an association or Zone would like to come up with a pilot program for the idea that one of the other posters came up with (1 from ea. team) and present feedback at some future AGM.

  11. I agree completely with the comments made by “Cathy”.

    Yes, officials of the game should be trained properly and have the ability to do their job with a certain level of competence.

    My problem with this situation is with the parents and fans that don’t understand what their responsibility is in the stands. Their responsibility is to cheer and support their team. That’s it. It is not their responsibility to be abusive, yell directions to the players, point out mistakes made by officials, make negative comments to officials, etc, etc, etc.

    Cheer for your team!! Everything else that happens on the floor is the responsibility of the officials, coaching staffs and players.

    Enjoy the game. That’s what it is there for.

    • These parents were cheering positively for their team and did nothing wrong in this situation. Why is it because this young kid makes an accusation that everyone assumes it is true. Maybe someone needs to be open in this situation and hear both sides of what really went on. Drop the finger pointing, on behaviour you did not witness firsthand (like some of us who were there).

      There has been some good conversation and suggestions on possibly how to improve the quality to scoring and timing. We should all keep it to that topic.

  12. Just to clarify, I am not saying in any manner that the people in this situation were being abusive by yelling “clock”. What I am saying is that it is not their responsibility to be yelling “clock”. Issues that happen on the floor are to be dealt with by officials, coaches and players. I am also not saying that the comments posted by this timekeeper were warranted. Like you said, I was not there. What I do know is that the way a comment was intended to be taken and the way it was perceived can be two totally different things.

    Whether I was coaching, refereeing or just watching a game, once the comments from the stands started to deviate away from cheering a great goal, play or save, that’s when things would start to get ugly.

    Officials in any professional sport go through intensive and ongoing training, yet mistakes are still made and penalty calls are missed. If mistakes are made by these professionals, I guarantee you mistakes will be made even more by minor sports officials. Minor sports are their training grounds. People learn by making mistakes, it’s human nature. As a coach, I tell my staff and parents that mistakes and bad calls are going to happen in every game. Don’t worry about it. That’s my job. As parents, I want you to cheer for your team and be positive role models in the stands.

    Remember, young eyes are always watching.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Comments RSS

  • Shots On Goal

    • 1,177,202 since (Feb/07)
  • LITG Co-Ed Sports

  • Like Us On Facebook

  • Pages

  • Archives