October 11, 2012 in Washington Voices

Front Porch: She’s keeping her whistle at the ready

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Football fans across the nation rejoiced Sept. 30 when NFL officials once again took the field – ending a lockout that had resulted in some spectacular missteps by replacement referees.

I, for one, was not rejoicing.

When witnessing the now-infamous simultaneous catch call by replacement refs during the Seahawks-Packers’ game, a light bulb went off for me. Like many NFL fans, I’d said, “Even I could call the game better!”

And then I thought – why not? I grabbed my ever-present reporter’s notebook and quickly jotted down my qualifications.

• As the mother of four sons I’ve had 22 years of experience in calling time-outs.

• I’ve been known to randomly shout “Offside!” at jaywalkers in downtown Spokane.

• I have a whistle.

• My eloquent hand signals and “mom-glares” frighten and subdue members of the male sex from ages 1 to 50. For some reason these gestures and looks have proven ineffective on males under 12 months and over 50, but since the average age of an NFL player is 27, I’m good.

• I frequently stand around with my hands on my hips looking annoyed.

• Fights on the field? Listen, I’ve broken up fights in the living room, in the backyard and in the backseat of a minivan. My experience speaks for itself.

• I am a recovering football mom. My son, Alex, played for the Mt. Spokane Wildcats for three years. Alex was a kicker whose record for points-after-touchdown still stands. Admittedly, I get a wee bit angry when I see gigantic guys rushing toward the kicker during kickoffs, field goals and point-after-touchdown plays. However, I’m sure I could subdue my instinct to smack said players about the head and face, and simply call “roughing the kicker.” Or I could just have a little talk with the fellas before the play and give them my patented “Don’t Even Think About It” speech.

• Referees often huddle together in the middle of the field and chat. I like huddling. And chatting.

• Coaches do not scare me. In fact, I often scare them. Maybe that’s why my youngest son announced this year that he’s hanging up his soccer cleats for good.

• I’m not afraid to take an unpopular stand. Ask my kids about the Video-Games-Only-On-Weekends rule, or the Chores-Before-TV law.

• Black and white vertical stripes are extremely slimming, and I think I could rock the referee look. However, now that the first female NFL ref has taken the field, I think the uniform could do with some updating. For instance, stretchy athletic pants are OK, but I’d prefer to wear Capri pants in warm-weather states. Also, I do not wear ball caps – ever. And why on earth do football referees wear baseball caps anyway?

Alas, by the time I’d polished up this list, the lockout was over and my career as an NFL replacement ref was abruptly aborted.

I didn’t realize how badly I wanted a shot at NFL officiating until my completely imagined opportunity evaporated.

In mourning, I wore nothing but black and white for a few days. I used hand signals around the house that nobody understood, and shopped in vain for yellow handkerchiefs to throw around.

Finally, my husband said, “You know, you were a soccer mom a lot longer than you were a football mom. Maybe the Major League Soccer referees will stage a walkout, or something.”

Yellow cards! Red cards! Physically fit men in shorts!

Hope springs eternal. If MLS needs replacement refs, I’ll be prepared. I’m already warming up my whistle.

Contact Cindy Hval at dchval@juno.com. Her previous columns are available online at spokesman.com/columnists. Follow her on Twitter at @CindyHval.

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