Continuing the game when it doesn't come easy
Ask the Expert
by Dr. Ginsburg
QUESTION: "My child works so hard to become better in the game of lacrosse, lots of training, lots of wall ball, yet the sport comes so much easier to other kids. She loves the game, but is it worth sticking with if it comes harder to her than other kids?"
The answer to this question is complex because important factors need to be considered. What is the age of your child? Does she enjoy playing with her teammates? What are the impressions of her coach? The reality in the athletic experiences of our children is that at some point, they are going to face failure. They aren’t going to be the best on the team. They are going to notice that some of their peers are bigger, stronger, faster or quicker than they are. This is a normal experience. In fact, those athletes who never face adversity, who never have to struggle to find their place on a team or work their way into getting some playing time are at risk of being ill-prepared for the challenges of life as an adult. We need to be comfortable with the natural process of athletic competition. A child under the age of 12 is still maturing in size, cognition and physical coordination. She may not develop into an outstanding athlete, but it is too early to tell. Conceivably, her hard work may pay off, and at some point, she may become more competitive. On the other hand, if she is approaching high school and is moving closer to her physical maturity, she may well be facing clearer indications of her athletic ability and potential. If this is the case, she will have to come to terms with the fact that she will likely play a smaller role in the team and quite possibly receive less playing time, or even no playing time at all. At this point, she will need to decide whether it is still enjoyable to play. Some athletes just love working hard and being a part of the team. Others may need to play more, and they may choose to quit or find another sport.
But, as we all know, even Michael Jordan was cut from the varsity basketball team as a sophomore in high school, so if the passion for the game is still there, and your daughter is having fun and is finding a way to feel a part of the team, I see no problem with the fact that she has to work harder than other kids. This may well mean that when life gets tough as she gets older, she will be that much more prepared to work hard and use her resources to persevere. Isn’t this what sports are all about? As a parent, I would begin to experience some concerns if my daughter became so discouraged that she was no longer having fun or enjoying her time with her peers. If this were the case, this might be a time to talk to her about testing out a few other sports. I have seen many instances where young athletes have come to terms with their athletic strengths and weaknesses and have consequently found other teams and flourished in them.
What are the proper ways to communicate with an official?
QUESTION: "I have often been confused by an official’s call at my child’s games. Each time this happens, I consider approaching the official to seek clarification but am always worried that it may be inappropriate to speak to the official. Is there a right and wrong way to talk to an official? Are there any actions I should avoid?"
Response by Lucia Perfetti Clark, Manager of Officials Training and Umpire Development, US Lacrosse
It’s important to keep in mind that, as a parent, your behavior in the stands, and with officials, sets an example for players and other spectators. Both good and bad behavior can be contagious. The golden rule is always a good general starting point for communication with anyone. Most officials are just like you: they have a regular full-time job, they love the sport of lacrosse, and they commit time, resources, and energy to ensure that your child has a safe environment to play in. While ability level of officials will vary, all officials have to start somewhere, and that somewhere may be the game you’re watching.
If the officials on the game you’re watching are USL members, they have been trained by veteran officials, both in the classroom and on the field. Spectators cannot say the same thing for themselves regarding spectator training, anyone can watch a lacrosse game, and this is something that officials keep in mind when spectators are critical from the stands. Officials are instructed to never answer or engage with spectators who are trying to interact with them during the game. There are several reasons for this cardinal rule. It’s unprofessional to allow a spectator to distract you from the job you were hired to perform. Additionally, it is someone else’s job to ensure that spectators act appropriately. A game administrator or some other representative from the school or league which is hosting the game is in charge of maintaining fan decorum (of course it’s always nice to hear sportsmanlike fans policing bad behavior; peer pressure can go a long way towards a pleasant contest).
Spectator Don’ts: before you think about shouting something critical at an official at the next lacrosse game you attend, consider the following:
It is also possible that you are a spectator with some knowledge of the rules - perhaps you officiated or coached at one point - does that mean you can shout whatever you want during a contest? Well no, actually, as someone with knowledge of the game, you should do what you can to spread sportsmanlike behavior at the contest, and not undermine the officials who are working that day. If you do have a particular issue with the officials on a contest, the appropriate thing to do is to address it through the proper channels after the contest is over, whether it be with a school administrator, or the local official’s board, or assigning authority you should professionally and without emotion state your case after the day of the contest. If you have video of the contest, you should send that in with your complaint. You should never approach an official leaving a contest with a complaint or hostility.
Spectators have an important part in the game! They have the ability to make contests lively and fun, or mean and contentious. Do your part to ensure a positive experience for everyone. Hey, if you find yourself wanting to talk to the officials at every game, COME JOIN US! Seriously, we have a lot of parents who make great officials. Now is your chance, get the best seat in the house.