Setting the tone
All of the players are special in this league. All give five-star performances every time they’re on the court. The Durham, NC Parks and Recreation Department’s winter youth basketball league is played in multiple gymnasiums throughout the city, giving participants a feel of travel to different arenas. It is encouraging to see 9-year-olds and 10-year-olds actually getting instruction. Parents and family members, however, often distract from the purpose of the league. Verbal attacks on officials combined with frequent instructions shouted to players from the stands disrupt the games and confuse the young players.
Attendees fail to understand the “rules” of the game as they should be applied in an instructional league. This is not the NBA or ACC. Officials are also tasked with teaching in these games. They are not necessarily missing calls. Walking with the basketball should be expected. More in some games than in others. Officials have to make adjustments based on the developing skills of the players in the game at that time. The same could be said for expectations on calling fouls, and when a player crosses the line on a free throw attempt. Catcalls aimed at the game officials do not help the players in learning the rules and accepting the referee’s call.
Addressing the next point is harder. How could one ask a parent or family member to stop offering encouragement to a child? I am not doing that. I am just asking attendees to not scream out instructions from the stands. Especially since most instructions are usually wrong. Rarely will you hear “Move the ball, get back on defense, or rebound!” but you will often hear “Shoot!” every time a player touches the ball. Even when the player is just crossing halfcourt. When the aim is instruction, we have to restrain and let young players develop, not let emotions and our desires for each child to be a superstar of the game take over. Most players in instructional leagues won’t play on the next level or become pros. Many will not get much better at the game than they are now, but all will be special!