It is one of the most distasteful duties any official is required to perform: the post-ejection or incident report that must be filed by the official with the state or conference office after the game. It is in your best interest to learn the correct procedure of writing those touchy documents to avoid adding unnecessary fuel to the fire.
You may be tempted to embellish the truth, especially when the coach has touched one of your “hot” buttons. Since such embellishment may be anything from merely your opinion of the situation to an outright lie, avoid it at all cost.
There is nothing to be gained and much to be lost. If it is discovered that you have padded the truth, it not only (rightly) calls your integrity into question, it may well nullify any penalty the coach faces.
Sometimes officials concentrate so thoroughly on the game that some specifics of the incident are lost before they step back into the locker room. If you have a situation that requires you to write an incident report, take a few moments immediately after the situation has been brought under control — and before play resumes — to jot down the important facts: the name(s) and number(s) of the offender(s), the game situation (period, inning, time), and exactly what precipitated the ejection or incident. Just write the facts on your report. Keep everything else to yourself.
Unless you totally lost control of a situation, the coach probably deserved what you gave him or her. Sometimes after things have cooled off, officials decide they’ll “do the coach a favor” by withholding the more embarrassing details of the event. The mistaken theory is that the coach will appreciate what you’ve done, and the next time you have them in a game, things will be rosy.
Those receiving the report want to know what was said by whom, and they want it all in the report. Writing out full curse words is preferable because they want it for shock value back to the principal, athletic director or administrator. Trying to soft-sell what happened only weakens your case and makes you appear to have a quick trigger.
If the coach called you a “mother_ _ _ _ _ _” write that the coach called you a “mother _ _ _ _ _ _.” It does nothing to say that “the coach uttered an unflattering remark and called me a name.” Let the association or conference know exactly why you penalized or ejected the coach and leave it to them to figure out what to do from there.
Did you ever know a person who, when they were very upset, gave every single detail of an upsetting event? Running their mouth at 95 miles per hour, those people don’t know where or when to stop, and the important details are lost in a sea of irrelevant trivia.
If you had an ejection in the seventh inning, we probably don’t need to know that the coach “came out” on you in the second, especially if the earlier incident didn’t result in a warning or other official reprimand. Avoid pointing out additional “minor” infractions if, again, they had nothing to do with the incident at hand.
Even with situations that were so upsetting you swear you’ll never forget them, it doesn’t take long for important details to fade from your memory. You may be tempted to “look at it again after a good night’s sleep.” While you should never write an incident report in the heat of anger, waiting and taking a few days to do it won’t work either.
Undoubtedly, your supervisor wants that report in hand before his or her phone starts ringing the next day. Rest assured that supervisor will certainly be getting the other side of the story soon enough, so make sure yours arrives first.
Sometimes after a particularly distasteful situation, we may decide we know what the most appropriate way to handle a misbehaving coach or player is and be tempted to include that in our incident report. Incident reports are no place for speculation or opinion. The only role officials have in them is to present the facts. Going further than that makes you seem petty and vindictive; both are traits that lead to drastically shortened officiating careers. Your “opinion” of the situation is already known: You ejected the offending party.
“In my 17 years of officiating, I’ve never …” is a bad way to start a report. Personal opinion is not important. Writing, “I should have done such and so” is also not right in an incident report.
The reports don’t exist for you to vent, second-guess or worse, “get even.” Your supervisor along with the coach’s or player’s “boss” will handle that aspect of the event.
You are already squarely in the middle of the event — don’t paint a target on yourself. Even if someone asks your opinion on the “proper punishment” for the offending individual, stay out of it.
What's Your Call? Leave a Comment:
Note: This article is archival in nature. Rules, interpretations, mechanics, philosophies and other information may or may not be correct for the current year.
This article is the copyright of ©Referee Enterprises, Inc., and may not be republished in whole or in part online, in print or in any capacity without expressed written permission from Referee. The article is made available for educational use by individuals.