It#039;s scary when refs don#039;t know rules

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2005

Just when you think you've seen or heard it all, there always seems to be something to top it all.

That's how I felt Friday night in McKenzie.

Having been in the journalism business now for almost 19 years, you come to see and hear some odd things.

You see coaches come and go whether it be by choice or not. You see players move on from one of the better high school players to a high draft pick at the professional level.

Then you just see the completely stupid.

What I encountered fits the later of which I write like a glove.

Being back on the sidelines to cover a high school football game I have always made it a point to not interfere with a referee as he patrols the sidelines.

But this was the first time that I was ever told and later had a penalty given to the home team because I was told to stay in the coaches' box.

That's exactly what happened Friday night covering Zion Chapel's visit to McKenzie.

A side judge of the officiating crew, which was apart of the Troy federation, said that I needed to be in the coaches' box. I explained to him that I was not a coach and that I was a working member of the media.

He said that I needed to be in the box anyway.

Having covered high school sports for as almost two decades, I do my best to stay atop of any new rules. I was aware of the new rule where no more than three coaches are allowed outside of the coaching box and that no coach is allowed onto the playing field.

That rule is being strictly enforced this year because of the pending litigation in Mobile where a referee and a coach collided during a game two years ago.

My chat with Arlin Davis, who was the umpire for the game Friday night, proved that I was right.

What is problematic is that referees think they know the rules.

What is more troubling is the qualifications to become a referee for Alabama High School Athletic Association events.

Greg Brewer, who is the director of officials for the AHSAA, said that a candidate must score an 80 or above on a written test, attend the rules clinic and pay his dues to become a certified referee.

I called the Don Sasser, who is the supervisor of the Troy federation, to see if he knew the rule regarding working media on the sideline.

Sasser said that since I had already called the state office that he need not comment.

Sounds like a typical copout answer from someone who obviously didn't know the rule, either.

I wonder what other rules he and other members of the officiating crews he supervise don't know. Obviously they know at least 80 percent of the rules, so coaches and players have an 80 percent chance of having a game called correctly.

Woe unto those in which the referee doesn't know the other 20 percent.

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. You can call him at (334) 382-3111 ext. 122 or e-mail kevin.taylor@greenvilleadvocate.com.