Thursday, June 4, 2020
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A candid interview with a youth sports official, Rick Hubner (Phoenix, Arizona):
Tom Kuyper (TK): How long have you been a youth sports official?
Rick Hubner (RH): About 5 years now. I have been officiating basketball, football and baseball.
TK: You are how old now?
RH: I am 55
TK: So you picked up a new career at retirement age.
RH: I am taking a new approach on what I do now: ENJOY IT! I don’t know how many vocations where you get criticized and yelled at while working and still enjoy what you are doing.
TK: You make a lot of money?
RH: We are paid very modestly
TK: I often hear parents in the stands yelling at the referee that he is unfair and wants the other team to win. Does that really happen?
RH: Never with me. I am completely unbiased. I never favor one team over the other. I really don’t care who wins. My job is to make sure that the game flows and promote fair play and sportsmanship.
TK: Oh come on! You mean to tell me that when one coach yells at you through the whole game you don’t want to get even with him? You have that power you know.
RH: Nope, I really don’t care who wins.
TK: Have you ever kicked anyone out of the game? You have that power too you know.
RH: Yes, the first person I ever kicked out of the game was a coach. He came off his the bench and out to me and yelled at me. I gave him a warning and then he did it again a second time.
I have only had to eject one fan in 5 years. Maybe it’s luck, but I like to think it’s being in control, ensuring fair play, having interpersonal skills, and having the patience to listen before taking action. If you can’t take criticism, then this job is not for you. I try to have a deaf ear and ignore these outbursts unless it continues and disrupts the game.
TK: How does that make you feel?
RH: Not good, but my job is to control the game.
TK: Can you notice the affect that out of control parents and coaches have on the kids during a game?
RH: Oh yes! When a kid hears his parent ranting and raving, most of the time the kid is embarrassed and puts his head down. He then tends to play in fear of making a mistake and misses out on all the fun.
TK: What makes you the most frustrated with the parents?
RH: It’s when the parents yell and complain but yet don’t know the rules.
TK: Do you have anything you want to share with the parents?
RH: Yes… parents, we are out there to promote fair play and good sportsmanship. We know that sometimes you get upset with our calls, but please understand that it is part of the game. We never favor one team over the other. We are not perfect, and I even like to admit it and apologize after the game. Kids love to see that. I can understand you wanting your kid to perform and win, but at what cost? At the youth level, these kids just want to play and have fun.

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