I had the privilege of being the crew-chief for the Seaside @ Banks varsity game on this Friday just past (10/5/12). I was reviewing my post-game notes from that evening and I felt that I needed to pass on, to both of you, several very positive impressions and reflections from the post-game discussion we had as a crew. I realize this may be a bit unusual, but in this current day, how often do you get to hear the good things about the student-athletes that are in your charge?
The game itself, was perhaps the most unremarkable factor in the entire evening. One team took control early and the outcome was soon decided. What truly impressed the five of us was the attitudes and discipline shown by all the personnel involved. With many teams, a "blow-out" situation (42-0 at halftime qualifies) will rapidly deteriorate into poor sportsmanship, ugly attitudes, and very bad behavioral choices that have nothing to do with the game of football (Read, lots of flags and, frequently, an ejection or two). This never even got close to happening! The coaching staffs and individual players are to be commended for the exemplary sportsmanship exhibited throughout the entirety of this contest by both teams. We did not witness any taunting or gloating from the team that was in control, nor did we observe any instances of sulking, boorishness, or "cheap-shot" mentality from the team that fell behind. As we reconstructed the game, we realized that, in addition to having less than a dozen flags over the course of the four quarters, we did not have a single false start . . . that is true team discipline. It is also very rare, as any official can tell you. Kudos to the coaches for instilling that unique skill-set into their respective offenses.
Of particular note should be the unceasing efforts of the captains to maintain a positive attitude amongst their teammates at all times. Countless plays, the umpire and I would hear the offensive and defensive captains exhorting their fellow players to, "Stay with it!", "Hang in there!", "Keep goin', Dude!", and many other calls for playing the game the right way. Many times, as a player was giving a "hand-up" to an opposing player, we heard things like, "Nice hit, Bud", or, "Good run", or "Sweet move", and other very positive and encouraging things. I cannot recall a single play that did not have players of different jersey colors picking each other up, patting the helmets, giving a mutual "pad-slap", or otherwise demonstrating a high degree of respect to each other. The captains and other players created an environment that reflected the very best of the team-game experience that high school athletics strives to achieve. Since my first football officiating experience, in 1986, up to the present, I can count on the fingers of a single hand, the number of games that have seen such a symbiosis of high respect, sound discipline, and an understanding that, "this is a game we love to play, but it is not our life".
To a man, our crew agreed that this will be a game held long in our memories of all that is strong, "right", and excellent about Friday night football. We felt that every coach, player and other participant reflected great credit upon the team, the school, and the community they were representing when they dressed in their "colors" that night. It was abundantly clear that both coaching staffs have worked hard to inculcate that foundation of respect so often lacking in our iconoclastic and irreverent age; respect for the game, respect for the opponent, and the self-respect that is earned through hard work and honest effort. While superlatives fail me, suffice it to say, had Norman Rockwell painted the epitome of the American high school football experience, this game would have been the result on his canvas.
I trust that you will feel free to distribute/forward this missive to all for whom you deem it appropriate -- particularly, your respective coaching staffs. In closing, I would also like to ask a favor. As individuals, and as an organization, we always look for the learning opportunities available from film-study. If either of your head coaches is willing to share a game film with us (crew and PFOA), please email a reply to that effect and I will send a disc and a return-mailer to expedite the process.
If you managed to find the time to read this far, thank you for indulging my efforts to give credit where it is most definitely due. Again, it was a rare treat to work with, and for, your two programs this past Friday. On behalf of myself and my crew, I thank you, your coaches, and your players for making it such a positive occasion,
With a passion for Friday Nights,
Jeff Walter - PFOA
P. S. From my Head Linesman about/to the Banks chain-crew: "These guys were the best I've ever had". If you are able to relay that to them, we would appreciate it.