Snap Shot #46: Crossing Over

Luke Ump 2

I thought I was being clever. In a rare Facebook foray, I posted a picture of my son after his first game as an Aussie Rules footy umpire with the caption: “Today Luke crossed over to the dark side…. in a flouro shirt… for twenty dollars….”. I believed this worked on a few levels – the Star Wars reference, umpiring as being the dark side of footy, the mercenary aspect etc. But now, after watching him umpire a further two games in a row, it is my perspective that has ‘crossed over’. Firstly, it’s simply amusing seeing him out there towering over the players – a flouro giant amongst pip squeaks. It also reminds me of how far he’s come, recalling the days when he was one of the pip squeaks chasing a ball inclined to bounce every which way. Now though, he’s the one keeping the game on track and I can see how empowering that is for him. Here he is, a thirteen-year old kid, getting to call the shots (literally). If there are adults around who don’t like his calls – tough titties. And of course, being the nature of umpiring, there will always be people, on and off the field, who won’t like his calls and will make their opinions known. Before he started, I explained to him the concept of ‘a thick skin’ – telling him that he would now need to develop one. What I hadn’t taken into account was that I too will need to thicken my own skin or risk a sideline showdown with some aggrieved parent. Should this ever happen – I have already devised my strategy. I will approach the peeved parent and ask which kid is theirs. I’ll then inform them that every time their kid makes a mistake, I will yell abuse at them – unless they stop yelling abuse at mine. Hopefully this scenario will never take place. But I’m prepared nonetheless. Future sideline confrontations aside, I am so proud of Luke. I can see that he’s growing in confidence and actually seems to have some talent for officiating. Not only will this provide a nice little income stream for him (for five months of the year, at least), he can now legitimately write a CV for any future employment he might seek. And I’m just guessing here but I imagine that, as unpopular as umpires and referees can be, employers would respect any teenager who can implement and oversee a set of rules. Future management material perhaps. So, even though I’ve calculated that all the traveling and other expenses I’m forking out for him to umpire are actually greater than the amount he’s being paid, I will continue to do so. Because the pay off is that I get to watch my son cross over from childhood to employeehood – and beyond…

Luke Ump 1

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