Stuck in the Middle: Make the Call
Many middle school students need to move and be active several times a day in order for them to be able to focus once they are seated in class. That is an important reason that we make sure that we offer intramural lunchtime activities for our students. Mr. Chambers runs our intramural program. Currently, he has our grade 6/7 classes playing each other in handball. The majority of students from each division and their teachers show up for their games and the gym is packed with players and fans. For each classroom, these games are about community building as well as sport.
Last week was the handball semi-finals and Mr. Chambers had to be away from school to take a group of grade 8 students to a UVic math presentation. He asked if I could cover for him in the gym and referee the game. He sent me the rules in advance so I had time to study them and I arrived in the gym prior to the game in my running shoes, my tracksuit and a whistle around my neck.
As I walked into the gym to set up, I realized that one of Mr. Chambers’ grade 8 leadership students had already set up the gym with the bleachers out, the scoreboard on and the nets ready for the game. Since I am a critical thinker, I approached this young person, who was wearing a referee’s shirt and asked, “Are you helping me referee the game?”
The young lady, who I have known since she was in kindergarten, replied with a polite “Yes.” I know that this young lady is quiet, shy and a little bit introverted, so I wasn’t sure how much help she would be in controlling the game and refereeing. Refereeing is hard: it takes confidence, attention to detail and quick decision-making abilities. All qualities and skills one would expect from a good principal, not a shy grade 8 student. I would surely have to be making the calls!
I started the game with a few comments to both teams about sportsmanship and respect of authority and then tossed the ball up in the air to start the game. The ball moved fluidly up and down the court as both teams tried to score and I shuffled along with my Fox 40 whistle in hand ready to ‘make the call’. Suddenly my vision was blocked as I tried to see if a foul was being committed and I hesitated for a fraction of a second.
The whistle blew loud and clear. The call had to be decisive with a loud quick blow that showed confidence and composure. I looked down and saw my whistle was still stuck in my hand. I was frozen with indecision. My referee partner, on the other hand, had her whistle pierced between her lips and her other hand pointing at the infraction. By the time I moved in to help the game was back on and the action was once again furious.
I ran up and down the court a couple more times. A few more good calls were made for minor infractions, but none of them were made by me. I slowly realized that my services were no longer needed and I sat down on the sideline bench and watched the remainder of the game as a fan.
At North Saanich Middle School you can participate in intramurals at lunch as either a player, fan or referee. It is a great way to stay active and involved in school life. The great Manchester United Football manager, Sir Alex Ferguson once said, “You can’t applaud a referee.” I think he might be wrong in this case. Well done NSMS players and referees!