I am not a big fan of social media, but there are positives. In this case, the article written yesterday actually made its way to one of the game officials from Friday night. And he took the time to share his thoughts with me via email. I asked him if he was okay with my sharing them as I thought it would be nice for fans to get an official’s perspective from someone who actually went through what occurred Friday night.
Here are parts of what he shared. His words (and a few from Brebeuf’s AD) will be in italics so you don’t confuse my interjections within….
I just wanted to reach out to you after I saw your post on the Blackford Facebook page regarding the game on Friday night. I was the head linesman on the Blackford sidelines during the game on Friday night. First I want to thank you for your statement on the Facebook site and your support of officials. As you know we aren’t perfect but you are exactly correct that we love the sport, the kids and it’s truly a passion for us to give up our Friday nights with our families to be out there with the coaches, fans, players and other officials. I’ve been a high school and college official for over 20 years and I’ve seen all kinds of fan behavior. Please know that we did hear the comments from the stands from some of the Blackford fans but we have been doing this for a while and we know it’s not personal and most of this type of behavior usually comes from fans that are the most ignorant of the rules or the game of football. As an official we have come to understand that it’s just part of the game whether it’s right or wrong.
What I really wanted you to know is that your comments about the Blackford football program was spot on! Please know that Coach Sehy and his coaching staff were phenomenal and nothing but total professionals during the game.
Though I appreciate the fact they do their best to tune fans out, I do not think that their willingness to tolerate it entitles fans at IHSAA events the right to tee off on officials. In doing so, their actions don’t seem to fit into an education-based approach to high school sports! Let’s put it another way, if much of society believes that schools are not doing enough to educate and mold today’s students, maybe fans can help the cause by aiding schools attempts to do so.
Hang on to your hats because this next portion should make us all proud. But it should also make us consider that before yelling something negative from the stands, please realize that you are being heard by players on the field as well. And let us be reminded that we are not the NCAA or NFL. IHSAA events are education-based as much as fans tend to forget that in the heat of battle. In short, let’s please keep things in perspective moving forward.
#70 makes us proud….
I also wanted to share with you what happened late in the 3rd quarter. After Brebeuf had scored Blackford was lining up to receive a kickoff and #70 from Blackford walked up to me and tapped me on the shoulder and said the following. “Sir, I just want to apologize to you and the other officials for the behavior of our fans. We have some really stupid fans and they don’t represent our school. I think you guys are doing a great job.” What a great kid and I think this speaks to the status of Blackford football and what Coach Sehy is teaching your kids.
I know it was a disappointing way to end the season for Blackford but I believe that as athletes we learn a great deal from team sports that are great life lessons. Coach Sehy and his staff are teaching your kids these lessons. (He shared a little about his playing days then added….) One of the life lessons I learned was what happened after that loss. I still remember the message our head coach told us on the field immediately after the game. He told us the following. “It’s easy to be a good sport when you are winning but the true test of someone’s character is when you lose and how you handle that situation.
Sorry to ramble but I want you to know from where I stood on Friday night I believe that your program is definitely going in the right direction and Coach Sehy and his staff are a big part of that direction. Congrats on a great season and I look forward to Blackford’s continued rise and hopefully a state championship in the future.
#70 is Kyle Crabtree. Mr. Shimer and I shook his hand this morning when we asked about him about it. He shared he told the official that our fans did not represent us well. Again, it is sad that the kids had to hear it, but awesome that he took it upon himself to represent an entire community by sharing that “that’s not who we are.” Awesome.
Also great is that the officials mentions the life lessons learned through sports. Heard anyone else share that message about 1000 times? Much can be learned through sports that will help us deal with what life throws at us!
To continue, after a “thank you” to the official and a request to ask if I could post his comments, the official added….
It’s great to see an athletic director like you leading Blackford. You get it!!! Thanks again for the kind words and please do share my comments if they will help you advance your message to the Blackford community. I continue to work on Friday’s because I love the sport and I love the kids that play the sport! Football has been a huge blessing in my life and I’m the person who I am because of the lessons I learned playing football. I pray that you can continue to move the bar higher at Blackford and if I can ever help you in any way please don’t hesitate to let me know. Once again please let Coach Sehy know how impressed I was with him and his staff and the manner in which his kids represented Blackford. I see 20+ teams each season and I can honestly say that Blackford is going in the right direction with your leadership and Coach Sehy. Great job and I wish you nothing but the best.
His words very adequately share why officials do what they do and the fact that they observe and note how teams represent themselves. I have heard good comments from officials. And believe me, this official, like any other, will take the time to share with plenty of others who’s paths he crosses about our Blackford Bruins and what they are doing just as he may also share the negatives about Friday night. After all, he is human, but I also remind all that everyone at any contest will eventually share their feelings, good or bad, about what they have experienced. And I have heard stories from officials that are very good and a few that make you wonder about the future of sports. My goal is to insure that everyone’s experience is a positive one. Frankly, that’s hard to do sometimes. So I need everyone’s help!
And, finally, the A.D. at Brebeuf sent this to me this morning after a brief exchange of emails….
I told your coach this after the game, but wanted to share with you that I was very impressed with him, his staff, managers, and team from them moment that they stepped off of the bus until they got back on. He’s doing an excellent job and is on the verge of creating something very special for your community.
Enough said. The Bruins made us proud despite the fact the game didn’t go our way. And that is all we can ever ask from our kids. They played hard. They represented us well. They made us proud. Great job to Coach Sehy, the Blackford Bruins and the 99%!
As we move to the winter season, please consider what you have read the past couple of days. And students, athletes, and fans alike, please do your best to follow the leadership of our Football Bruins and represent us with class at all times. Make us proud and let’s all enjoy a fantastic winter athletic season!