Foust Law - February 2020



SPORTSMANSHIP AND RESPECTING AUTHORITY IN 2020 My Return to the Black and White Stripes R aising kids can be a challenging endeavor. When Heather and I married in 2013, she agreed to take on not only a husband but also two boys, Andrew, 12, and Chandler, 11. The boys are now 18 and 19 years old and are growing up in a world very different from the one Heather and I knew when we were teenagers. We are far from perfect parents, but we do our best. This article chronicles some of our successes and some of our less than stellar moments. We hope you can learn from some of our failures and find entertainment in the moments we share. A CAUTIONARY TALE It is incredibly easy to get sucked in to the hypercompetitive world of youth sports and completely lose perspective. I, too, have been a victim of losing perspective and, after the fact, was embarrassed by my conduct. It happened in the fall of 2017 at a junior varsity football game in Butte, Montana. On that fall afternoon, I transformed from my somewhat mild-mannered self and into an unrecognizable monster. My son Andrew plays defensive back for Bozeman, and he is responsible for defending a receiver when the ball is thrown. Getting an interception is a big deal for defensive backs. Drew found himself in man-to-man coverage as the Butte quarterback lofted a pass downfield. Drew reached up and came down with the pass and his teammates went nuts! Unfortunately, the opposing receiver was also able to get a hand on the pass as Drew came down. The referees called“simultaneous possession” and awarded the ball to Butte inside the Bozeman 10-yard line. I could not believe my eyes. Surely the legendary Butte fix was in. Not more than 10 minutes after Drew’s first interception, it happened again. Drew came down with another pass, and the officiating crew called “simultaneous possession” as the Butte receiver tackled Drew from behind. I had what can only be considered an out-of-body experience, calling the Butte officiating crew every name I could think of. Much to my embarrassment, I had become “that parent”— the parent who makes everyone else duck under their stadium seats. This was absolutely, positively not my finest hour.

RETURNING TO MY ROOTS On the ride home from Butte, I realized I was out of line and decided to do something about it. I had no business yelling at an officiating crew that way unless I, too, was willing to officiate myself. After a 20- year break from officiating, it was time to get back into the black and white stripes. When I was in college, I used officiating as a means to pay for my living expenses. I believe that we were paid around $20 for subvarsity games and around $35 for varsity games. Games were usually in the evenings on weekends, and while refereeing quite a few high school games, I actually got pretty good at it. I had a varsity schedule in my early 20s, when I was not much older than the players I was officiating. Refereeing was a lot of fun. I had no idea how much things had changed in 20 years. My first games back were at middle schools in Bozeman. Although I handled quite a few high school games, my experience after handling a number of seventh and eighth grade basketball games left me with this question: What on earth has happened to middle school parents in the past 20 years? I do not know if it is the increased pressure from traveling teams or the real possibility that their kid may be cut, but what used to be fun junior high games has turned really ugly. What is different from the criticism I saw 20 years ago is that today’s middle school parents seem to have a genuine disrespect for authority. I cannot be too critical as I, too, have had my embarrassing moment. However, I encourage parents to keep this in mind: When you yell at referees and coaches, you are telling your community that your family does not respect authority.

- Lucas Foust

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