By Brent Rice
MHSAA Assistant Director
In this week’s edition we discuss the power of our words and delivering them proactively, examine a football rule regarding rushing the punter and take a look at an “It’s Your Call” at the volleyball net.
The Words We Use: Officials face criticisms regularly for their rule enforcement, judgment decisions and even positioning. As we know, these criticisms will be tossed about whether you get plays and rulings correct or not, so there is very little we can control in this area. One area we can control the criticisms we receive is the way we speak to others.
I’ve heard people say, “I’ll give them respect when they earn it.” If that’s your line of thinking, maybe you should consider giving respect simply because it’s the right thing to do. The way you communicate as an official to coaches, players and administrators reflects on you professionally, and often is a determining factor on how these parties view you in carrying out the rest of your responsibilities. If they think you’re a bad person, they often don’t give you the benefit of the doubt in close-call situations.
There are a number of books written on the art of diffusing situations through the words you use. One that immediately comes to mind is “Verbal Judo” by George Thompson. It is rather succinct and definitely worth the read. It provides much more detail on the philosophy of word usage, but let me provide you with a couple of seemingly innocuous phrases that can draw the ire of a coach and should be avoided:
“Well, that’s the rule” – Rules citation is very important when providing explanations, but simply stating that the rule says so sounds flippant and is looked at as a cop-out. Instead, start with “By rule,” then use rulebook terminology to describe the situation and ruling.
“Calm down” – While this is much better than the cringe worthy “Shut up” or “Hush” we hear being used from time to time, it still can provoke a primal urge to respond and can actually have the opposite effect of what is intended. Instead, try getting the results you desire by having them talk it through. Try statements like “All right, I’m listening to you,” or “Okay, explain to me what you’re asking.” And when using a phrase like “calm down,” trying adding an “if” statement along with it. For instance, “I’ll explain to you what I have if you calm down.”
Rule of the Week
FOOTBALL Team R loads up the box with rushers to put pressure on K’s punt deep in its own zone. As K1 punts, R1, coming from the center of the line, just gets fingers on the ball and partially blocks it. R2, from the edge, then firmly contacts the kicker’s plant leg and sends him to the ground.
Ruling: This is not a foul (in itself). The rulebook does not provide that only the player who touches the kick is excused from contacting the kicker. This exception to the rule refers only to when “the defense touches the kick.” (9-4-5-b) Of course, this does not give carte blanche to defensive players to go out of their way to unnecessarily rough the kicker just because the ball is touched.
It’s Your Call
VOLLEYBALL The clip from this week picks up after an extended volley. As Team S plays the ball over the net for its third hit, a front row member of Team R makes a play on the ball. The questions is, are the two contacts by the front row R player legal? Why or why not?
Last Week’s IYC Ruling: The basic spot on the play is the end of the run. Using the all-but-one principle, this foul would be penalized from the spot of the foul (A’s 35). If the defense accepts the penalty, it would be A’s ball, 3rd-and-27 on A’s 20. If the defense declines, it would be 4th-and-8 on A’s 39. This is definitely an instance that you want to run the options by B’s coach before enforcing the penalty. (Click to see the video from last week.)
After a long, hard-fought Friday night contest between Rockford and Greenville, crew members (left to right) Dale Feutz, Brian Donovan, Sam Boland, and Luke Griemsman stop in at a local Rockford eatery to discuss the night’s game over a meal.