HOLLYWOOD HOTHEADS: THE VIEW FROM THE DUG OUT

How much have things changed in Hollywood since the Harveyquake?  In some ways, the business will never be the same.

But in most ways, there’s still plenty the same.

One very important view, however, comes from someone who deals with Hollywood muckety-mucks, poobahs, and grandees at the most sensitive level  – from their children’s softball games.

The letter below, obtained EXCLUSIVELY BY THE ANKLER (trumpet flourish!) comes from the Referee Adminstrator of a Little League Association somewhere in West LA, one populated by lots of show business folk. In this letter, he addresses league parents about behavior at the games. Read on and judge for yourself how much the climate of Hollywood has changed, post-Weinstein.

Parents, Coaches and Referees,

We are all in this together to create a fun, fair and safe experience for the players. However, the “we are all in this together” doesn’t mean that everyone gets to pick and choose how they interact with each other.

The sideline has the toughest job of all. We want parents to cheer and not make comments to the referees, the coaches and nor even to the players that crosses the boundary of being the cheering squad. This is a tough job. Impulse control is incredibly hard, particularly when it involves our children.

The job of the Referee crew is to apply the Laws of the Game, as best as they can, taking into account the age and player ability. Comments from coaches and parents, even when well meaning, is at best a distraction and, although it may be unintended, disrespectful to volunteers who are just trying to do their best.

We entrust our coaches with precious cargo. Coaches are the direct link to the players.  Comments from the sidelines, however well meaning, are at best a distraction and, at worst, disrespectful. Please let the coaches coach, the referees referee and the players play.

If we all follow the rules, the players will benefit the most.

We are all going to make mistakes, referees and coaches alike. But it’s the players who make the most mistakes…and that’s the only way they learn. It’s a lesson we should all heed.

As we finish the regular season and enter the play-offs please be kind to everyone. Take a deep breath and take a few seconds to think about what you are going to say out loud.

As a Referee, as a Coach and as a parent, I know that impulses are hard to control.

So, do it for the kids. Lead by example. Cheer and say nice things.

This will be my last year as your Referee Administrator and I will no longer be the Game Scheduler. And there’s a reason, I have come to despise so many of you and I hold so many of you in contempt.

Your behavior on the sidelines has, for far too long, been disrespectful and you are damaging the children. You have said nasty things to and about too many Referees and it must come to an end.

I can no longer be involved with so many people who feel so entitled. People threatening to write up a Referee because he was wearing a protective boot was the last straw.  The behavior on the sidelines has been dispicable too often.

It’s too bad, the vast majority of you are wonderful people but I need to depart the land of entitlement where too many of you think that everything has to go your way and you take every comment or email I write as a personal attack on something you hold dear, when all I’m doing is trying to get your attention that you have an obligation to volunteer.

So, I’m done…and it’s your loss.

I will continue to referee but I will no longer, as of December 17, be involved in the administrative matters of REDACTED.

Should there be a concerted effort to change the culture in REDACTED, I may consider a return.  The Board needs to lead by example and too many behave as if they are the most entitled. Still, it is you, the parent body, who need to make significant changes to your behavior.

You may not like my tone but everything I have written is the truth.

Let’s enjoy the play-offs and let’s be respectful.

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14 comments

  1. This is also a problem in the United Kingdom. What we have is an online league management application that allows the coach for each team to provide a score for the opposition, in terms of sportsmanship and supporter (parent) behaviour.

    We do this using a league management system called Our Kids Sports (.com) and this provides information to the league administrators about problem parents. Teams can be fined for the behaviour of their supporters and have points deducted. Registration is mandatory and referees can end a game for any reason at any time, including abuse.

    It isn’t a perfect system, but it reminds the parents that the people who run junior football are doing it because they love the game and that the leagues are prepared to take action to protect referees.

  2. The American sports culture we see on television of coaches berating referees and umpires and of player tantrums throwing their equipment around needs to end. Professionals in sport should be paragons, exemplars of their craft and not spoiled, entitled brats. When we see some leadership, some discipline, some fine examples on tv we might begin to see them in college, club, and school level sports.

    As an umpire with 30 years experience at the highest levels, I have heard the most outrageous commentary from the bench and the bleachers. Invariably these comments come from people who have never played the sport they are watching, have never attended any training in the sport, have never held a whistle in a competitive game and who have learned that bellowing at officials is ok in our society. It is not.

    This is not gladiatorial Rome. This is the City park. This is not a matter of life and death. This is teaching our kids and young adults the value of teamwork, the thrill of winning and lessons of losing, the passion and the beauty in participating in sport, respect for the coach and the officials, in short, what sportsmanship is.

    If you think I’m a bad referee – go, get trained, pick up a whistle – then you will have my wholehearted support to coach me on my performance. And if that’s not your thing, instead of haranguing me from the anonymity of the crowd on the sideline, come up to me after the game and ask me how I saw the situation, from 5 feet away, that you interpreted differently from 100 feet away.

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