He Drove The Lane...
shaking off defenders. The point guard took one, two, three, four steps before shooting the ball.
"That's traveling, ref!"
"That's terrible, ref. He traveled. Ya gotta blow the whistle."
No call. The opposing team inbounds the ball, and starts back down the court.
The fan continues his tirade.
"Hey, dumbass!" I say. "It's the Special Olympics."
The Lifeguard spent the weekend working at the Massachusetts Special Olympics Winter Games, helping several thousand Special Olympians who were playing basketball.
It was inspiring, and amazing. There was a young man with prosthetic legs running up and down the court with the same fervor as the other players. There were young women with various mental and physical limitations; but, who were playing with unlimited heart.
And, above it all, there were a few fans who took insult that the excellent referees, who had volunteered their time on a snowy Saturday, were letting the odd travel, or double dribble, slide.
As a sports official myself, I have frequently dealt with the taunts and complaints of parents and fans who haven't the slightest clue about the rules--or the reality of officiating at any level, let alone the disabled. The fact that anyone would be critical of athletes who had overcome so many barriers to get out on the court is unfathomable to me.
The additional fact that more than one idiot was complaining about the no-calls made me insane.
And, had my...um...interaction with these fools devolved into something physical, I had back-up. Lots of it.
Oh, and kudos to the athletes, coaches, and volunteers that made the 2008 Special Olympics Massachusetts Winter Games happen, made them truly special.