Dear Basketball Parents: An Official Tells You What You Probably Don’t Want To Hear. BTW, You’re Probably Gonna Be Offended By This, And That’s OK. Some Folks Really Need To Hear It!

Officials take a beating. From football to basketball to umpires and even whatever those folks are called in tennis; they get beat-up, yelled at and whatnot. Sometimes they deserve it. Most times, they don’t. I can say this, even as the son of a coach. I was brought up in a house to distrust stripes, on clothes and on the field. . . So, with that in mind, I read this today from an official friend of mine and I felt like I had to share it here and let y’all read it and react to it. You may not like it, but you need to read it if you have a kid playing sports. The one about your kid not playing sports beyond high school ( or junior high ) that’s the most important one to me. So, read it and react to it. Comment here. Share it on Facebook and Twitter. Get mad, get glad but make sure you read it honestly and react honestly. – Hyatt

Dear Parents, Fans, Folks Who Like To Yell, Some Household Appliances, Small Dogs and Administrators,

I read with great interest today the story in the Avalanche Journal about the shortage of officials. I will let you read it and draw your own conclusions. But here are some of my thoughts… Before I start let me say this…  

Most of the parents are fine; most of the coaches are great.. I am talking about a growing select few… In the past five years or so, the abuse has gotten significantly worse. 

Also; I am not writing at the behest of nor do I represent the Lubbock Official’s Chapter…

Here we go…

1.) I officiated a game at one of our church schools here in town yesterday and while the local people and team acted fine; the team from Abilene had parents who were idiots… one in particular. He wore a hoodie in a hot gym so that he could pull it up over his head and talk shit to us all – the whole time protecting his “Christianity” which he probably believes he corrected this morning.. (I don’t believe it works that way – but who knows).

At one point he walked toward the sideline and said we were horrible… And I responded by saying… “Then they have us in the right game”. I looked him back to his seat.. I may have also – more than likely- added a descriptive adjective before that word “game”… I’m not sure.. 

I will say this… I don’t give a crap about what he has to say or  his lame ass opinion. He is what’s wrong with basketball at this level.

2.) If you believe your  5’7”, 145 pound kid is going to play in the NBA, college division one, or even division two or three – unless he is Spud Webb – you are wrong.

3. When you stand and hold your hands out wide to the side, (like Jesus on the Cross), I would offer to you that you are the reason your child has a sense of entitlement even though he has no idea how to play basketball.

4.) There is a home schooled girls team here in Lubbock that plays with five players. They are terrific players, they know how to play the game, and they are coached terrifically. That is why they beat your little church schools 80 to 20 every time they play. I also believe they could beat about half of the boys teams. Maybe more than that. they could also beat any number of schools across the board. 

5.) I am not talking about all of the schools here in Lubbock. All Saints and Trinity are a pleasure to call for. I don’t mind calling at Christ the King, as the school officials there are great. I gave their coach a technical foul yesterday, but he knew why he got it..

6.) It seems the lower level the school; the worse the fans act.  And the odds are, they know basically nothing about basketball… Much less, officiating a game. 

7. For those of you who believe you can do a better job of officiating; the reality is most of you couldn’t go up and down the field or court five times with out passing out. I am 61 and a cancer survivor. I can go for three hours and never get winded. I work out and do cardio four times a week. At my age; my feet and ankles hurt usually until about noon the following day after I officiate. 

8.) The fact that a guy is a coach doesn’t make him any sort of an expert on the rules. Some know them; but many of them would flunk the exam. (I gave the exam to a few guys several years ago, all of them thought they could officiate, the highest score was a 37). 

9.) If your child has the basketball and he is trapped in a double team on the baseline; he tries to force himself through a double team to go to the basket; or he simply whirlybirds down the lane out of control…he is not going to the free-throw line, even if he gets hit or knocked to the ground; unless it is flagrant in our opinion. We are not going to fix that for him. That is not basketball – it is just the opposite. 

Your child gets to go to the free-throw line when they are fouled shooting a “meaningful” shot – not simply because they go flying through the lane and are met with contact. Good coaches will tell you when you go over this with them that that is “exactly” how they want the game called.

10.) When you leave the game and you tell Jr. that the refs cost him the game; you are setting him up to fail in life. Athletics are a microcosm of society. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose… But we learn from the experience.

11.) If you believe after 35 years that I give a damn about what you say to me or how you treat me, you are wrong. I know when I have made mistakes; most of you have no idea what they are. I usually go have a piece of salmon somewhere after the game.

The real issue is the fact that we have trouble retaining young officials because of the abuse.  We are working on making sure our young officials are protected… And that they understand that there idiots in the stands who  are just that… Idiots.

12.) We make about $75 an hour calling basketball (somewhat less for football). We have to give some of that back in travel time… that’s life…

13.) Finally, I have had players – on many, many occasions – apologize for the attitude of their parents.. Think about that… Think about it… 


All officials out there trying to officiate your kids games.


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Ryan.

    I agree with *almost* everything stated. However, I do do take exception to the comments about not rewarding hard contact with a trip to the free throw line.

    I’m reminded of a recent Ropes football game in which a thousand flags were thrown and it made the game nearly unwatchable.

    I was at a recent girls Jr High basketball game in which nothing was called and the offensive players for both teams were being knocked to the floor on nearly every possession. A parent asking that fouls be called was asked to leave the facility or else his team would forfeit. The parent’s motive was player safety.

    I agree that an out of control ball handler shouldn’t be rewarded – however, swallowing the whistles in a rough game leads to more contact and a bigger chance of injury – especially at the younger ages when they are beginning to learn the game. An official can very easily dictate how rough and tumble a particular game goes. And a parent or fan or coach asking for fouls to be called is not out of line nor should it be received as an insult to the “stripes”.

    • Let me add that I understand that officials aren’t the coaches – it’s not their job.

      However, that doesn’t mean that they cannot be teachers. I would venture to say that very few parents would be upset with fouls called against their kid if the officials were explaining the calls and helping them learn what they were doing wrong. Communication goes a long way.

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