Monthly Archives: January 2014

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An Illinois High School Association (IHSA) soccer referee calls out-of-bounds during the Boys’ Varsity soccer game against Fenton on Sept. 28, 2013.
Photo by Emma Venetis

Sports officials are a common sight at DGS. Not only are 15 out of the 20 sports offered at DGS overseen by sporting officials, but many students and faculty spend time officiating sporting events as well.

According to the National Association of Sport Officials (NASO), these officials, including referees and umpires, “ensure games are played fairly, by the rules, within the spirit of the rules and in a safe manner.”

Physical Education teacher Colleen Reagan has been officiating volleyball matches for the past nine years. She believes that although officials have an important role in the game, they should not stand out.

“It shouldn’t be about me,” Reagan said. “People shouldn’t…even notice [me]. I’m there just to make sure that the teams are following the rules.”

This is consistent in what the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) expects of its officials. Throughout the school year, IHSA officials, like Reagan, are rated by coaches of the teams they officiate for on their performance. Based upon their rating, they are given opportunities to officiate events including sectionals, regionals and state tournaments.

Similar to this, officials for professional sports like the National Football League (NFL) are graded weekly. If there are any issues with the calls they make or do not make, they are downgraded. A multitude of mistakes can require them to pay fines, or cost them the opportunity to officiate in the playoffs or the Superbowl.

Reagan thinks that this is not only a fair process, but an important motivation for referees.

“I don’t have a problem with being graded and being rated because it makes you strive to be better,” Reagan said.

Although you must be at least 17 years old to become an IHSA official, there are other options available to younger students. Downers Grove Youth Baseball allows anyone 12 and older to umpire after attending training sessions. Similarly, the Illinois Soccer Referee Committee allows anyone ages 12 and older to become a referee after attending a clinic and passing a test each year.

Sophomore Catherine Lynch started refereeing for soccer when she was 13. Although she believes it was a good learning experience, Lynch ended her time officiating last year because she wasn’t enjoying it anymore.

“It was a lot of pressure to be a referee [and] not…make the coaches [and/or] parents angry,” Lynch said. “It’s difficult…There are a lot of rules you have to know [and it’s hard to] not make any mistakes.”

In sporting events, officials have to make important calls, either for or against each team. In most sports, an official cannot retract or change their call, even if they realize that they have made a mistake. This often leads to criticism from the team, the coaches and the fans.

As a referee, Lynch has experienced anger directed toward her because of calls she has made.

“It’s very stressful because…if you make a wrong call it can cause [a team] to lose, and parents [might] get angry at you…or players might…act disrespectful toward you,” Lynch said.

Lynch has experienced a situation while working as an assistant referee, in which the other referee made a controversial call. Even though she was not the one to make the call, angry parents on the sidelines began to yell at Lynch.

While Lynch has had a problem with parents, it is also common for athletes to become angry at officials. Senior Taulant Beshiri, a member of the Boys’ Varsity soccer team, understands the frustration that may cause athletes to act negatively in this way.

“When you’re an athlete and you’re on the field and [the official has made] a big mistake…you kind of just want to tear [the official] apart,” Beshiri said.

Nevertheless, Beshiri feels that these emotions are unreasonable and should not be acted upon.

“[Off] the field, you have to thank [the officials] because they do their job, and it’s a tough job,” Beshiri said.

Reagan has also experienced negative reactions because of her calls, but she believes that criticism is something that officials should expect with their job.

“I just work hard to be fair and impartial, and if there’s a bad reaction to that, or if someone sees something differently than I do, then that’s just…part of the gig,” Reagan said.

Varsity Girls’ Volleyball coach and Special Services teacher Trisha Kurth considers the referees for volleyball in Dupage County to be of high quality. She believes that the quality of a referee can determine whether or not athletes have a positive or negative experience in their sport.

“I never want the kids to think they lost the match because of bad refereeing,” Kurth said.

Concurrently, Kurth believes that athletes will have a more positive experience when they learn to accept the officials’ calls, whether the calls are in their favor or not.

“I always tell the kids that what the referees call is the final judgment,” Kurth said. “The referee is going to call what they see, but [athletes] tend to not realize that a referee is never going to change their call.”

The Varsity Boys’ Soccer coaches also work hard to educate their players about reacting to referees. Beshiri believes that his coaches do an effective job of teaching their athletes to be respectful.

“Our coaches for soccer do a very good job of…making bad calls [in practice], to see us adapt to it,” Beshiri said. “In games we usually don’t…complain a lot to the referees.”

Similar to many DGS coaches, Lynch urges athletes to be respectful to officials.

“There has to be a line where you don’t question the [official],” Lynch said. “You just have to continue playing, no matter what.”

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By Kaanan Raja,
Copy Editor

Hold your phone’s camera high above your head, pout your lips together and click away; these are the ingredients for ridicule and a scoff to match. Being a teenage girl in the era of smartphones, social networking sites and shaming, it’s no surprise that a new phenomenon has made an appearance and been condemned from Internet users and elderly folks alike; a phenomenon known as selfie culture.
“Selfie,” recent 2013 Oxford word of the year winner, is defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”
What Oxford English Dictionary fails to mention is the criticisms that come with participating in selfie culture. From crude looks to the occasional eye-roll, society has found it much easier to cast off selfies as a narcissistic attempt for attention.
I’m here to say they’re wrong.
Being able to choose how you want to portray yourself to the world and having pride in yourself isn’t egotistical in the slightest. Rather, it’s empowering. As a young girl who struggled with body image and self-confidence issues alike, I applaud my fellow peers who have both the courage and self-love to post pictures for all their acquaintances, friends, family and even foes to see.
Senior Adele McKenney, an avid selfie user, agrees and states her own opinion on selfie culture itself.
“I find [selfie culture] more empowering than vain. I think that much of the criticism of this generation is based on how narcissistic we really are, but I honestly don’t think that our generation is any more narcissistic than the last,” McKenney said. “Selfie culture is a different way of expressing ourselves, just like any self-expressive style of the past. Famous artists dating back to ancient Roman and Greek cultures did self-portraits to express how they viewed themselves; selfies are just a less time consuming expression of that same ideal.”
We as a society need to stop interchanging self-love and narcissism. With photo-shopped billboards and airbrushed celebrities in magazines surrounding teenagers every day, it becomes dangerous when individuals associate acts of self-respect with pettiness.
A Rolling Stone article recently featured Ezra Koenig, lead singer of the popular band Vampire Weekend. He voiced his opinion on the power of selfie culture and its relationship with self-love.
“For you to be able to take a picture of yourself that you feel good enough about to share with the world – I think that’s a great thing.”
Therefore, send a Snapchat every time you wear your favorite purple top or upload an Instagram picture because you feel especially proud of your makeup routine today. Don’t allow society’s constant need to maintain beauty ideals stop you from appreciating yourself and your body just the way it is.
While selfies can be used for humorous purposes and for fun, they can also serve as a way for an individual to express oneself.
Some may sneer at this idea that a simple picture can represent a story or self-expression. However, these individuals must understand that today’s media outlets portray only a sector of the human species as ideals of beauty.
Boys and girls who are transgender, disabled, considered “fat” or are of racial minorities, are usually left out of media transactions. This permits only cisgender, slender, able-bodied males and females to be viewed as the ideal image of beauty, taking toll on those who don’t meet this criteria.
Some of the arguments against selfie culture are tied with the idea that people shouldn’t be dependent on others for validation.
Junior Brett Cohen expands on this idea stating, “I think [selfie culture] just has to do with people being too reliant on other people’s approval and recognition. It’s kind of like a cry for people to look at you.”
While needing others’ approval may defeat the overall purpose of taking pride in yourself, the desire to feel appreciated and wanted is all part of the human experience.
Mark R. Leary, PhD, psychologist at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem performed a study on the relationship between the approval of others and self-esteem.
“People underestimate the degree to which they are influenced by others…We grow up thinking we shouldn’t be affected by what others think. The study helps remind us that perfectly healthy people – with perfectly healthy self-esteem[s] – are still affected by what others think,” Leary said.
Like some people, selfie culture can often be silly and repetitive. But it is important that we as a society no longer write off this cultural phenomenon as just vanity or a cry for attention. As selfies are representations of what we choose to show to the world, they can often express the simple joy of being alive.