The Wisdom of Dan Louie...


        The Second quarter is almost over which means HALFTIME is around the corner! Attitude is another intangible which separates the wheat from the chaff. It truly regulates how we progress as officials and is part of our over all composition. A good attitude is crucial in everything we do and is an on going process. It begins, in officiating, with a self evaluation of why do we do what we do?  My hope is that we officiate to continue to be a PART of a game which impacted us as younger people. We should not be the game. So how do we accomplish a good attitude?  

It begins with how we approach our assignments.  We must take care not to complain or gripe about getting too many youth games, too few ďBIGĒ games, or not getting the rewards which we feel are the benchmarks of our success.  Do I always want the 1 vs 1?  You bet I do! Do I complain when I get the 2-5 team vs the 3-4 team? NEVER!  If we get caught up in rankings and other side issues we are not going to present a good attitude to the players of the teams we work.  I previously stated that I have always approached every game I have worked with the same dedication, commitment, and work ethic; regardless of level or standing.  Put our feelings aside and remember that we are lucky to be part of the game. I hear officials complain about their assignments and I have noticed that those who complain the most seem to be the very officials which work the least at improving themselves.  A positive attitude means we go to our meetings and participate in a cooperative manner. Use your local options to improve your association instead of merely griping.  

Check your day at the car door when you arrive at the game.  The players did not cut you off in traffic, they did not get on your case at work, and they did not create the turmoil at home.  Players are not idiots.  They sense when we are hostile or on edge and it feeds the potential for negative situations and poor administration of the game.  Attitude also carries over into the crew you are working with that night.  We all have to work with officials we do not like or do not respect.  But it is imperative that we put that aside when we walk into that pre game.  We are a unit and must function together, not as four individuals trying to impress someone or inflict psyche damage. If an official makes an incorrect comment we must take strides to find a neutral, non-threatening way to counter the comment. I usually take out the rule book and mention that I may be confused.  I stress that it is important that WE are right as a unit and not as individuals. I work hard at not appearing condescending or intimidating when difference arise.  

I also will do whatever the Referee asks, even if it is not the way the I would do it. Case in point, if the referee wishes to deviate from the mechanics book I will offer my opinion. If he holds firm I will cede the point and do it.  I may evaluate him on this and I may discuss it with him after the game but I am not going to have a chip on my shoulder about it.  I feel a positive attitude creates the best environment in which I can work.  I try not to emit an aura of ďEGOĒ when I am the LJ working with less experienced referees.  I truly donít care what position I work; I am confident of my skills and do not see this as a slap in the face.  Instead I try to offer input which will help that Referee become a better one.  I always remember the excellent help I received and want to pass the baton to those coming up behind me.  I donít view them as the opposition taking away MY game.  The same applies when I am being butchered on the field.  I never criticize officials during the game.  I must work hard not to share or show my frustrations with weaker officials.  I try to remind myself that I am not perfect and that sometimes we learn from our mistakes best when they are approached with a positive spin rather than a negative one.   

Had a game with three inexperienced officials this year.  The Linesman ruled a fumble at the goal.  When I asked him on the field he was adamant that the ball came loose prior to crossing the goal.  After the game he commented, ďToo bad he didnít touch the ground in the end zone or he would have scored.Ē  When I nudged him for more info he said that the runner leaped from the field of play, extended the ball across the goal and then dropped it.  It was not a TD because the runner did not touch the ground before fumbling.  I could have yelled at him, I could have told him it was a bad call, or many other approaches.  What I decided to do was to have the entire crew research the question in the post game.  My hope being that he would learn better from all of us reading it rather than my ďoffering an experienced opinionĒ.  A positive attitude is more conducive to growth.   

Attitude is also important in our dealings with coaches.  I know that there are coaches who shudder when they get the assignment and see my name on it.  I do not allow this to influence how I will approach them. I donít brag about getting them, or putting them in their place.  Now donít read that I am a perfect human being.  I will joke with certain officials about the game before or after but never on game day.  I shake their hand firmly, talk in a calm, deliberate manner and offer no reason for them to feel that my personal feelings will affect my judgment or decisions.   

Watching other officials...always be careful what you say while a spectator. For a variety of reasons I am well known in our area.  When I go to a game I sit as far from the crowd as possible.  If I want to make a ďnegativeĒ remark I make certain that no one other than the person I am speaking to can hear me.  I also never offer an opinion when asked by spectators.  I remind them that we are not on the field and are not privy to what is actually going on.  I donít get hooked by wanting to prove how much I know by offering information when it has no bearing on anything.  What good can come from my telling those around me that the crew or the official screwed up.   

Attitude is also measured by how we arrive at the game. Cut offs, sweat suits, etc. are comfortable but they tend to say that we are taking this game a little lax. Attitude is not complaining about having to work the chains, not wanting to write down important information, or other common displeasures. Attitude is observed by how we physically handle the game. If I walk in and casually drop a flag what message am I sending?  Again, one that I donít want to be there.  

Dead ball periods; do I joke with the crew, do I joke with chains, do I stand with hands in my pockets, arms folded, or do I stare into the crowd or at the cheer leaders. This also sends a message which I feel is negative.  

In short, we must work at our ATTITUDES so that the game is fun, fun, fun. After all it is a game.  Am I perfect?  No way.  I have to work hard in this area and I am not always successful.  When I fail, I note this in my log and try not to repeat the offense. Here then is my check list:

1.     Allow travel time which will get me to the game site early enough that I am not going to be stressed by time.

2.     Enter the arena professionally and greet each member of the crew with a smile and humor.

3.     Stop my tom foolery once the ref begins the pre game-I have a reputation for being a jokester and I must refrain from being the center of attention once we start

4.     Walk onto the field with authority and precision-not a robot but as a professional-regardless of the game

5.     Treat everyone positively while working the game

6.     Dead ball periods-stay alert and pay attention to my responsibilities donít use time to joke with crew donít stare upwards

7.     Donít complain about the game assignment or position

8.     Cooperate with crew as a unit donít challenge but inquire donít argue but offer opinion and then move on leave my ego in the car

9.     Watch body language stand parade rest during lulls be brisk in movements crisp signals, move with purpose donít frown when upset or frustrated-stay calm

10.   Remember, the game is more important than I am.  Donít get defensive when challenged/questioned on the field.  Correct my errors on the field not after the game own up to mistakes and learn from them donít be critical use otherís mistakes as learning tools have FUN