Our family has been involved in the girls basketball organizations in our area since our daughter was nine, she is now fifteen. She has played in as many as three different leagues in a season and two seasons a year since she started. She played on several different teams for different coaches. This has given us exposure to different cities and venues to play in.
Something we see that doesn’t seem to change from league to league or year to year, is the quality of the refs, the bullying on the court, and the physical aggression.
Our daughter has for the most part always played on teams a year or two older then her, she likes the challenge and goes in knowing that there will be more physical contact. We have seen kids slapped, punched, pushed and pulled on. All of this, right in front of the refs and no calls made. I have had the opportunity to talk to a couple of refs about why some calls are not made. I was told it had to do with time schedules and score leads, both reasons made no sense to me. If you have players making the same errors on the floor, it’s our obligation to take advantage of the opportunity to teach them to be better players, there is also the safety factor to consider. We have seen moving screens where players have been knocked down. We have seen players get knocked to the floor by an opponent that didn’t attempt to get the ball from the ball carrier, in front of the refs, and no foul calls made. When I asked a ref about the aggression, I was told “kids get hurt”: Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for playing hard, but being there with the intension to hurt others, not so much. is it too much to ask that safety and respect a higher priority then the schedule.
We have experienced so many different levels of experience in refs. I’m so in favour of seeing inexperienced refs getting exposure in real game play. What we see often, is one ref that makes most of the calls, while the other runs up and down the court and only uses their whistle to call out of bounds. What ends up happening is calls being made by a ref so far out of the play, that mistakes happen. This frustrates the players and leave confusion in what is and isn’t being called or when. This also means, many fouls are missed or seen by refs that don’t make the calls.
Over the years we are hearing more and more name calling on the court, this has gone past the normal game trash talk. Hearing teen girls calling each other bitch, or the ever effective “C” word or dropping the “F” bomb on each other is disturbing. This has to be something the refs have picked up on and again, this is an opportunity we have to teach our kids respect.
We brought these concerns to the league organization that asked for specific situations where these occurred. When we responded that it was a situation that the league, refs, parents and players, needed to get involved in, they didn’t respond. We have heard of parents contacting league leaders with concerns about team rosters and refs, and received no satisfaction.
In today’s youth basketball and all sports really, as well the zero tolerance in the school systems towards bullying, fair play is promoted and yet this is an environment that has seen little change to improve the interaction and respect between players. League leaders need to start listening to parents and coaches about what they experience and start working with them to find effective solutions. Change is only going to happen when the leagues, refs, coaches, parents and players work together.