Q: What is the rule governing when or where a coach can object to a penalty? What is acceptable, and what can draw a penalty? - Dennis Bouton, Atlanta
A: "This is a complex question with an answer that is not officiated by a rule but more of a philosophy in communication and professionalism. My advice is be a good listener. If a coach is expressing his view on a play or a call, listen and allow him to vent. There are limits, like charging onto the field, or if he becomes personal in his comments. Allow the coach the last word. Don't be the antagonist. They get the last word and they will probably let it go. Get the game going. Get him coaching again. Body language and short comments are key to handling an intense situation. Maintain eye contact and a non-aggressive stance. Yes sir and no sir go a long way in respect and defusing confrontations.
"Lastly and most important, remember that this is the coach's job and how he makes a living. I attended an NCAA clinic years ago and we had a coach speaker who had been around in a lot of different jobs over his years as a coach, and he told a great story. 'Guys, remember you are seeing me at my worst - I say that because I feel like I'm a good guy and I admire each of you (officials) for what you do and your passion for the game - but me and my staff are coaching these kids every day, dealing with their issues and trying to keep them focused on playing football and winning. Most of the time we do not choose when to leave our jobs at the schools we coach. I coached a game a few years ago at another school and we lost the game late due to some dumb coaching mistakes, and the fans were not happy. We had been there a few years, and on the ride home my daughter who had attended the game was crying. I asked her what was wrong, and she was upset because she did not want to leave her school and friends. That is why you are seeing me at my worst.' I remember that every time I deal with an upset coach." - James Arnold, Etowah Valley Football Officials Association
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