Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Coaches Are People Too

Image Courtesy of Bentcorner.com
Anyone see the Detroit v. San Fran (gridiron) football game the other day?

If so, you were treated to some coach on coach bumping and grinding as rookie head coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers, handed the Lion’s head coach Jim Schwartz his first loss of the year.

Harbaugh can be seen immediately before coming over to slap Schwartz on the back, jumping around like a frog on a hot plate. Not surprisingly, Schwartz took some exception to the treatment, all of which, and the aftermath can be seen here, from NFL films.

Well now what is the referee role here for such boorish behavior one may ask?

Head for the showers? Call the police? What's the call?

Well, first let me say that I don't blame Schwartz one bit. While I appreciate the excitement from Harbaugh, I also think it was way over the top. WAY over the top. That said, there referees have a responsibility here, and can't just turn their backs and head to the showers.

So lets think about it, this is essentially a mass confrontation scenario. What do we do?

While each scenario is different, generally if you can get in between the trouble makers, do so. You can see the referees actually trying to so this in the video. With that you can actually try to talk some sense into the parties and get them to calm down a bit. You can also usually count on help when you start to separate folks like this too especially in big venues like the subject one. In smaller venues, other players usually jump in to help.

After that, take a breath, and when things are not going to reignite, TAKE NOTES! Right there is the time to make sure you get the relevant notes down. You will need them later.

Well, what if you get no help, now what?

Back off, and if you are not in any danger, take notes. Have your officiating team do the same. If there is not a reasonable way to control what is going on, make sure that it gets reported accurately, to the league, or the police as needed.

In no cases however, should you compromise your safety and that of your crew. If the scene is unsafe, get out and when safe, write the details of what happened as you will need to write a report later. No exceptions here, if you are in danger, leave.

At the end of the day here, I expect both coaches to get fined by the NFL, Harbaugh more than Schwartz for starting the whole thing. Then again, Schwartz could have just let it go after the first slap on the back.

Again, coaches are people too and are emotional beings, and as referees we should allow them to be so. When it goes over the top however, they need to be reeled in too, just as you would any other participant.

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