Extra Points: Brian Spano 1/2

Brian Spano

By Brian Spano PrepsKC Senior Writer
Posted: January 2, 2012 - 1:27 PM

I have been covering high school football since, well, I was in high school. I’m not going to date myself, but it’s been more than 20 years, and doing this has never gotten old for me.
Every year is a fresh start, a new challenge. I’ve seen programs born. I’ve seen programs die. I’ve seen long-time powerhouses face struggles. And I’ve seen long-time sufferers become juggernauts.
But through all the change and all the new faces that have flowed through the river of high school football, there has always been one constant, and it happens in every single game.
Fans, parents, students, coaches and players working the officials…hard. No one is innocent when it comes to picking on the guys that try to keep the game in order.
For as long as I’ve covered football, I’ve heard the yells and screams and taunts from the stands and the sidelines at the guys in stripes, and usually the ones from the stands are worse.
Look, I realize we all have a job to do here. The coaches coach the kids, but is it to solely win football games or help the kids gain the experience of being in a team setting and enjoy the camaraderie of the whole football setting?
The kids are in it for what? To get a scholarship to play at the next level? A few, yes. But the rest may be playing for the pure enjoyment and love of the game.
Now, the officials. Those of us that watch football on Saturdays and Sundays have been conditioned by technological advancements that have been made over the years. In other words, we have the benefit of instant replay whether we watch from the comfort of our own homes or inside the stadium.
The officials at the high school level don’t have that benefit obviously. There are only five of them that confer on a play, so the pressure on them can be immense. Now put them in a district game or postseason playoff setting, and the stress level becomes immeasurable.
Yes, these guys are the judge, jury and executioner when it comes to the law of high school football. They have to be blind so to speak. They have no hidden agendas and supposed to hold no grudges. They just call ‘em as they see ‘em.
But what disturbs me is the lack of respect they are shown not so much from the sidelines but from the stands. It’s up to the coaches to air their grievances with the officials if they see fit. In the past, I’ve heard parents who honestly believed an official was singly their kid out for an entire game when the player actually had two flags thrown on him in all.
Officials are human, and yes, they’ll make mistakes, but believe me, not a single one that I’ve spoken with hasn’t regretted it. They know it can affect the outcome of a game, and they don’t want to see that happen. I’ve seen an official go up to a coach after a game to apologize for a crucial mistake he made. It didn’t help the losing coach’s cause on the scoreboard or help to console the players, but it sure did a lot for that official to gain his respect.
And it’s all anyone can do.