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Behind the Stripes

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The 2017-18 school year is underway and Fall Sports are in full swing!  Two weeks into the new season and we are off to a great start in what should be another successful and fun year for all involved from participants to coaches, parents and fans.

One topic to be aware of — the forgotten member of our activities —our officials.  These fine men and women serve a role that we can’t function without.  Unfortunately, the number of officials available to high school sports and activities is on a downward spiral that looks to be reaching dangerous levels in the next few years.

Numbers are dwindling for several reasons but one major reason is the treatment they receive at events they work at.  We have a nice tradition at Oakville of how we treat opponents and officials.  That must continue.  You’d be amazed at how many officials report of the positive atmosphere here.  Unfortunately, that is not always the case.  But we can only control what we can control and I’m asking as your activities director to keep in mind the reason why these folks work our games.  They had a connection to the game at one time and have made the decision to keep that connection going by putting on the neutral jersey and hanging the whistle around their neck.  That decision alone is one that should be respected.  These folks will make mistakes but it’s our job as fans to understand that we make mistakes in our jobs, our coaches make mistakes and our kids who play the game make mistakes.  It’s all part of the game of life.

While our core group of officials continue to do what they do they (along with all of us) are aging as a demographic.  We must have an infusion of new talent.  I would ask if you are interested or have sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, friends, etc who are possibly looking to take a part-time job in a sport or activity of their choice; encourage them to become officials.  It’s as easy as going to the link below and taking a few minutes to sign up.

https://www.mshsaa.org/Officials/

Once that’s accomplished, we have many great officials-assignors around our St Louis area who are ready and eager to help get these new officials acclimated by working personally with them and putting them with experienced mentors to guide them along.  I would be happy to connect a new official with these assignors to help them along if needed.

As a former volleyball coach, I won’t lie to you; I had my “moments” with officials when we didn’t always agree.  As the years went by though, I came to appreciate them more and more not only for the job they do but also for the commitment they made to our sport.  And now, all these years later, I count several as great friends.  Bottom line, it’s a noble profession to join and we as followers of our various sports must do what we can to create a positive atmosphere for them to work in and an atmosphere that others will want to join.

As stated at the beginning of this article, I hope you enjoy watching our Tigers and the atmosphere at our events this year.  I ask that you keep in mind that the folks out on the field with our kids though are an integral part of what we do.  Let’s be an advocate for them and continue making Oakville a place where they look forward to doing their job.

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