We all call him Pottsy, and so do many of the players. That alone says a lot about the kind of man, and official, we have in Rick Potts.
Whether it is football, girls basketball or baseball, almost every parent that has had a kid pick up a ball has seen Pottsy in stripes or in his ump gear.
And at some point they have smiled at some interaction between Pottsy and their children.
No matter how anxious the coaches, players or parents may get, Pottsy has a God-given ability to take the edge off and let us all enjoy the moment a little better.
I have been involved with youth sports for 23 years, and I have seen Pottsy while I was a coach, a parent and as a neutral observer as a member of the media.
I believe all officials would agree there simply is none better.
My kids enjoy the game better when Pottsy is on the court.
We all do.
Last night, there was a tense moment on a close call, and Pottsy took some public abuse that never should have happened.
Most of us have a simple rule, and it is something that has been earned over decades of public service — never question Pottsy.
Are there questionable calls in a game? Sure there are, and there always will be in little league or at any level.
Major League Baseball, the NBA and NFL all have replay systems to assist officials that make a lot more money than our youth sports officials do here, but there is only one attribute that we have to use with our officials — character.
Different officials have a different size of strike zone, a different level of contact on a foul, and it is good for our kids to understand that there is a difference and adjust to it. That is part of the game (and life).
Questionable calls are also part of the game (and life).
Was the runner safe at first? Or at home? Was it a ball or a strike?
They are all questionable.
Never question Pottsy, because he has all of our kids best interest at heart, on all teams.
As parents, we have to learn that we are sending signals to our kids, and when we believe we might be showing them that we will defend them no matter what, that kind of signal isn’t needed in a little league game.
What is needed is the lesson of restraint and respect when there is a questionable call.
On any close call, one side believes it was right, and the other wrong.
Someone has to say, “Safe!” or, “Out!”
Teach the kids to move on, to dust themselves off and keep playing.
Pottsy’s approach to the game is light-hearted, fun, and he allows kids to relax and enjoy the game even if just for a moment.
This season, Pottsy’s son Kyle has stepped into the stripes and the ump’s uniform and onto the field. He has learned from the best, and he is exhibiting the same easy-going conversations with the coaches and players that his dad has done for decades.
I do not believe there is any better legacy Pottsy could have passed on than the ability to allow our kids to enjoy the game even when we try to put the weight of the world on their shoulders. Kyle learned it, and our kids are enjoying him just as much.
Thanks, Pottsy, for being better for our kids than we sometimes are ourselves.