I’ve always been surprised when I attend sporting events how many of the fans don’t seem to understand the rules. And it’s not just the fans you’d suspect, like people who never played the sport (young kids or women with football, short people with basketball, etc). It seems to be a lot of fans don’t know basic rules like what constitutes offside position in soccer or what happens when the ball goes out of bounds on a kickoff in football or even traveling in basketball. It’s just weird to me. How could you understand what’s going on? Why would you go watch? Not understanding the rules is why I can’t watch rugby, even though I can tell I’m missing out.
Anyway, my impression is that this effect is most pronounced at BYU games. Tons of gasping and anger when refs just call the games according to the rules. I always wondered why. And then I made the mistake of moving to Utah County and coaching Junior Jazz basketball. Now I get it.
As an example, just now the team we played was coached by a guy who intentionally coached his players to play by a different set of rules than the league uses, passing it off as “real basketball”. As if there is such a thing. There’s just the rules everyone plays by in any given league. The kids were completely confused, but because of the coach’s perspective they felt emboldened to argue every call with the 16 year old ref. The parents on each side were confused and started questioning all the ref’s calls and applauding or booing each kid’s decision/action. I’ve never seen anything like it, but sadly it’s not a unique experience. In 4 seasons coaching different sports here, I’ve seen this in about a quarter of the games in these leagues.
I coached in Phoenix and Las Vegas before this and have never seen coaches know so little, feel such a lack of responsibility for player development and generally lack an intent to teach. It’s just strange.
I probably need to move.