Washington Evening Journal

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Talk with D-Rok

By Derek Helling, Sports Editor | Feb 20, 2014
Photo by: Journal file photo Derek Helling

In last week’s column I discussed the sign outside the hockey rink in Hoffman Estates, Ill. and the reminders posted on them that were, “these are kids” and “parents should cheer for everyone.” This week I’ll be addressing two more notices from this genius sign, “this is a game” and “the referees are human.”
The first of these two notices should be the most obvious of facts to an audience. Let’s take basketball for instance. The object of the game is to win. How one team wins is by scoring more points than the other team in the allotted time. Points are scored by passing the ball through the rim out the bottom of the net attached to the rim.
The skills acquired playing basketball or wrestling for the most part will not translate to the job market or help a student excel in college. I have yet to experience my ability to get into a three-point stance or swim-move over an opponent’s block helping me in life outside of the football field. It’s true that young people can learn lessons about life and themselves from sports. That does not make it any less true that they are games. Those lessons are learned from situations that arise in the course of the games, not the games themselves inherently.
What’s less obvious but perhaps more important is the humanity of the referees. These men and women give of their time to perform an essential function for little pay. According to Refstripes.com, the national average for working the most lucrative type of high school game, varsity football, ranges from $65 - $100 per game. If you factor in the time the referee takes in traveling and completing certifications plus the expenses that he/she incurs in equipment, trainings, uniforms and membership dues, the money is not great.
The reality is that these men and women who referee middle and high school games do it out of as much of a desire to give back to their communities through scholastic sports as enjoyment of the games. They are certified and trained. Most of them are quite well experienced. Their job isn’t just to enforce the rules of the game but also to help teach the student-athletes the game. The next time you want to scream at them for what you perceive to be a bad call, remember the facts. These men and women have most likely forgotten more about the game than you’ve ever known. These men and women are sacrificing time with their families to enable your student to play a game. Lastly, I highly doubt you could do any better of a job. These men and women deserve our respect.
The time has come to lighten up about the sports played by our student-athletes. This isn’t life or death. These are games. Conversely, the time has come to take those who referee those games more seriously. Those positions are filled by men and women who have worked toward them and it costs them just as much, if not more, than they make in order to maintain it.
Support your school’s teams and student-athletes. Do it loudly. That doesn’t include making more out of the games than they are nor disrespecting the referees.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Feb 25, 2014 22:25
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Feb 25, 2014 02:35

By John Gibson


Throughout my racing career there have been tracks that are my favorite ones to race. Tracks like Pipestone County Speedway in Pipestone, Minnesota, or Monett Speedway in Monett, Missouri. But one question arises whenever I start to reminisce: What are the best tracks in the country?

Let's look at a few of them. I've put together a list of 10 tracks that you must race on in your lifetime. A couple of notes first, though. Understand that I chose to leave out all but one current NASCAR Cup track. Because let's face it, any one of us, given the opportunity, would race at any Cup track on the schedule. So with all due respect, the choice to leave out tracks such as Daytona and Talladega was intentional. Rather, I wanted to focus on short tracks. I also decided to separate the dirt tracks from asphalt, so I chose five of each with the largest track being only a mile long.

Iowa Speedway, Newton, Iowa. This is my favorite track out of all the ones I have raced on to date. The only way to explain how great Iowa Speedway is, is to tell how much it spoils you rotten just by racing there. The track is a 7/8-mile asphalt oval that is over 60 feet wide. The turns are made up of compound banking where the bottom has 12 degrees of banking and the topside has 14 degrees. Rusty Wallace designed this track and he did so with the driver in mind.

The track is smooth as glass and I can tell you from experience, it's quite fast. In our Hooters Pro Cup car we were reaching speeds at the end of the front stretch of 160 mph. One of the most impressive things about Iowa Speedway is the overall facilities. The covered garage area will hold 50 cars and the grandstands will hold 25,000 fans. This track is one of the premier tracks in the country.


"So I'd probably tell myself not to worry so much and to enjoy each little chapter in your life. I still worry too much now, but not as much as I did then." Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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