Kindergarten Student Gets Early Start as a Basketball Referee
Some kids dream of sinking the winning basket in the big basketball game. Bryan Carr's idea of fun is blowing a whistle in that big game. At six years old, he may be the youngest basketball referee in America.
Bryan is in kindergarten. He also helps out with officiating for the middle-school girls' team at Edison Prep in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Bryan isn't really in charge yet. He runs up and down the court at the side of the real officials, imitating what they do from calling fouls to handing balls to players for in-bound passes. He even wears a tiny official's uniform -- striped shirt and black slacks --that his foster mom found on the Internet.
"Before each game, I let the referees know that Bryan likes refs and wants to be one when he grows up. Then I ask if they mind if he refs the game with them. I've never had one say he can't," Jeannetta Lang, coach of the Edison Prep squad whose sister is Bryan's foster mom, tells ParentDish.
What does Bryan, who stands just 3 foot 5, like about being a ref? "Wearing the uniform," he tells ParentDish.
Anything else? "He really likes blowing the whistle," Jeannetta Lang says, adding that Bryan only blows his after play has been stopped by the real referees.
Lang says that she first noticed Bryan's interest in basketball referees last summer when the two went to see Lang's nephew play in some summer-league games. "He started asking questions about what the refs did: 'Why do they put their hands up?' 'Why are they counting?'" Then he started running with the referees on the sidelines. "Everyone thought that was pretty funny," Lang recalled.
In November, Lang invited Bryan to become a ref trainee for her Edison Prep team, and he's been an attraction ever since. Fans cheers his calls and, when he misses a game, want to know when he'll be back.
Bryan's officiating isn't the only good thing to happen to the Edison Prep team this season. The girls' squad just finished the year with an undefeated record.
ParentDish sports reporter Mark Hyman is the author of " Until It Hurts: America's Obsession With Youth Sports and How It Harms Our Kids" (Beacon Press).
Have a suggestion for an article on youth sports? Contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Related: When Refs See Red
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.