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Volleyball officiating not fair to volunteer officials

Image by Keith Johnston from Pixabay

By Travis Dockery

389 Country Editor

In the decade I've spent covering Hayesville sports team, one thing has always left me scratching my head. The oddity has moved beyond confusing to infuriating. I'm talking about the volleyball officiating.

In case you don't know, volleyball requires for officials. One official is in a stand above the net to watch the volleys while another official on the opposite end of the net stands on the floor and watches for players who might cross over onto the opponent's side of the court.

The other two officiating jobs are line judges. They stand in opposite corners and watch the

sidelines, end lines and makes sure servers don't step on the line. These positions are intensive, high-stressed and oddly enough, filled by volunteers from the crowd.

These two who have decided to help out are given a 30-second training session as teams warm up and music blares. As the volunteers take their places, you can see the nervousness in their body language. You can almost hear the prayer in their head, "Please don't let one be close."

Inevitably, a player will send the ball flying towards the floor, right on the line. At this point, the shell-shocked volunteer, who has filled this position out of the goodness of their heart, makes a call and is instantly booed by half of the gym. Most of the time, before the game ends, that unofficial-official is put in the same predicament and makes a call that benefits the other team. Now they are booed by the other side of the gym.

All the while, the two trained and licensed officials avoid all the criticism by letting the volunteers drown in the wrath.

Could you imagine if, on Friday night, two officials run out on the football field and start pulling fans from the stands to finish out the officiating crew? It won't happen. Why not? Because the first time a questionable call was made, coaching staffs and fans alike would descend on the field looking for an explanation. But in volleyball, it's just a part of the game.

Of course it also opens the window to assist a team. I don't see it a lot, but I have seen clear examples of volunteer volleyball officials being responsible for crucial points in a set. Yes, some of those examples have benefitted our beloved Lady Jackets.

The phrase, "That's how we've always done it," cannot be a free-pass for something that is obviously a problem.

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