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Have You Seen a Green Whistle?

An innovation from the officials north of the border, that we can't wait to take to the lacrosse fields

If Their Whistle is Green They are Under 18

Basketball Victoria has launched a campaign that caught our eye(shout out to loyal follower Mr. Ricket). The idea is to give officials who are under the age of 18 a green whistle - the typical color is black or silver. This is so fans or parents know it is a youth official in training. This is especially for those fans who may feel it is their right to chastise officials for calls they disagree with, to help them take stock into who is helping officiate those basketball games. As we like to mention in Lacrosse, the officials are critical to the growth of our sport and currently a major concern due to unruly sideline behavior. Bottom line, there aren't enough officials to support the spring or summer slate of games, and it presents an economical and logistical obstacle to our game. So as a community we need to do what we can to support growing the base of new referee's. The campaign from Victoria is "to provide an appropriate environment for our referees under the age of 18". Effectively protecting those younger officials in training from the harsh criticisms that come with being a seasoned official and inevitably working a gym where fans don't have the appropriate respect for referee's.

Those Positive Vibes

Jo Chu, director of officials in Victoria stated, “Society understands that those under the age of 18 can be easily influenced so our desire is to have them influenced by positive role models and incredible sports people. I encourage each of you to lead the way in ensuring that when you do see a referee whose whistle is green, you contribute positively to the environment they are in.” What really struck me from this campaign was the ways they highlight in which you can contribute positively to those referees under the age of 18. The list below aligns very closely with the Certified Lacrosse Parents goal for keeping our sidelines overwhelmingly positive:

  • Communicate to the U18 referee what a great job they did as this will make them feel proud and want to continue.

  • Cheer positively for both teams competing as this will create an environment filled with great sportsmanship.

  • Call out others who may be behaving poorly as this will help create an environment where we help each other self-regulate.

  • Comment to others what a great job the young referees did to continue to highlight how important they are to the sport we love.

Here is a direct link to their article if you are interested in learning more about the Green Whistle Campaign.

Where Do Lacrosse Officials Fit?

So what does lacrosse do with this? There are at least two takeaways that we can apply directly to our men's and women's game. Both could help reduce the loss of officials that limits the growth of our game. Especially the women's game, the shortage of officials there is astounding. First, adopting the green whistle campaign for our youth officials, would begin to develop new officials at an early age. If every sideline was filled with Certified Parents and all youth officials had a green whistle, there should be a far less critical environment for a young official give it a try. HS players interested in officiating youth games could have a nice part time job, strengthen their understanding of the rules of our game and gain some extremely valuable perspective from seeing the game from another role.

The second point is, why stop at youth officials? As data indicates 80% of new officials give up the vocation in 2 years, lets apply this approach to new officials of any age. Call it the Yellow Whistle Campaign, and it means 'hey this is a new guy or gal to officiating' approach them with caution. This might get more of them past that 2 year milestone, it might give them time to learn and grow their skills while gaining valuable experience. If their whistle is yellow stay mellow.

The Final Score

The Certified family has a lot of officials as friends who support what we are doing, because they feel the brunt of wild sideline antics first hand every weekend. The green whistle campaign and hopefully a future Yellow whistle campaign are intended to give some grace to folks going outside their comfort zone and trying something new in a place where help is needed. We all could use a little grace these days. Our sport needs new blood as officials, so whatever we can do to help is a positive step. Don't get us wrong, we aren't suggesting yellow or green whistles handle HS varsity games, State playoff games or high level tournament brackets, those should still be reserved for experienced, knowledgeable refs who have graded their way to the top of their profession. There are hundreds of games each spring weekend that are not at a high level and could use a green official. Who knows...maybe the next Mikko Red Arrow is amongst one of these new officials! We can only hope.

Be kind to our refs and thanks for stopping by.


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