Schickler: Lacrosse refs don't use common sense
Sometimes, it's better for the referee --or anyone in position to make a decision -- to throw the rule book out the window and use his or her discretion on an issue.
One of those times was Wednesday's Class S semifinals girls lacrosse game between fifth-seeded Weston and top-seeded Haddam-Killingworth at Sheehan High School in Wallingford. Weston increased its lead to 12-7 with 1:27 remaining in the game when the game was suspended because the referees saw signs of lightning coming. According to National Federation of High School Lacrosse, a game is suspended for 30 minutes if there's a sign of lightning and it can resume if there are no signs of lightning in this interval.
Thing was, even if the referee may have sensed something, nothing really happened for awhile (there were a few signs in this interval but nothing of note struck for at least 40 minutes). If only the referees used their discretion, realizing that there was only 87 seconds left and if the game continued, it would end in two minutes, way before any currents could strike anyone.
The general consensus of the fans from both schools was that the game should have continued because very little time was left on the clock and no bolts struck for awhile. A few fans claimed they didn't see any current or sign when the game was initially suspended everything looked benign at that point.
After going awhile with no signs of the lightning abating (the 30-minute clock starts after each bolt), the game got suspended. Because the game was suspended, the teams went home and returned yesterday at 3 p.m. after press time to complete the game. This meant both teams had to travel great distances with Weston traveling at least 90 minutes by bus and Haddam-Killingworth probably traveling closer to 45 minutes to an hour just to play 87 seconds.
In fairness to the referees, they are concerned for everyone's safety and sometimes, it's better to err on the side of caution. Having it stated in a rulebook also gives the referees incentive to play it safe. But sometimes, playing it safe isn't the right thing to do and going strictly by a manual also doesn't work because a manual doesn't take every situation into effect.
In these instances, referees and other people with positions of power should use discretion and do what's best for the greater good. In this instance, it was to finish the game Wednesday night and not make both teams return to Wallingford just to play 87 seconds. If the game continued, nothing would have happened to anyone and everything would have gotten done without forcing both teams to return and possibly, force the winner to miss a day of practice for the championship game.