“If You See Something, Say Something”

In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, New Yorker and advertising executive, Allen Kay came up with a phrase without a client in mind.  He simply wanted to create something positive in the days after the attack on the twin towers. “The model that I had in my head was ‘Loose Lips Might Sink Ships,’” Kay told the New York Times. “I wasn’t born during World War II, but I sure knew the phrase and so did everybody else.”  Kay’s phrase was simple, “If you see something, say something.”

Many years after Allen Kay’s phrase was penned it is still in use and has been adopted by many metropolitan areas worldwide, as well as, the Department of Homeland Security.  In 2012 the NFL adopted it for the Super Bowl. A simple phrase designed to make people aware of their surroundings and to provide added safety for the community about us.

So what does this have to do with volleyball?

Intrigued by this phrase, I wondered how it might be helpful to us as volleyball officials.  Not from a national security perspective, but as it relates to how we interact with one another and the schools we serve.

“If You See Something, Say Something”

If we see “something” and say “nothing” – we open ourselves up to potential problems.  We also do a disservice to officials who follow us and have to address these same issues.  And the first thing a school or coach will say is, “Well, nobody has said anything about it all year.” Now how does that make us look?  Here are some areas that you may want to consider:

  • Uniforms and head wear
  • Equipment and safety components in the gym
  • Court markings

There are also things we can do to help one another by “saying something”:

  • Professionalism of co-officials
  • Rules interpretation
  • Mechanics
  • Court protocol
  • Proper attire

Recently I worked a match at a school where the court markings were not compliant with NFHS rules.  The 10’ attack line was not a solid line across the court.  Upon approaching the coach I was told that “every official who comes here tells me about that.  What do you want me to do go paint the line?”  My response was, “No, coach, I want you to use some white gym tape and connect the lines to make it compliant.”  I applaud each official who knew the rule and approached the coach.  However, not one official informed the chapter or filed a report with the U.I.L.  The result?  The court was not corrected and every official afterwards had to deal with the same issue. Nothing resolved because something observed went unreported.

What are some other instances when saying something could come back to hurt you or set up officials who follow you to have to deal with a situation? What about areas where we can make one another better?  Is saying something to the benefit of the official and the chapter?  Of course!

Seeing Something and Saying Something should not be viewed as intrusive or “tattling” – no one wants that to be the result of this objective.  However, if we do not work together to provide resolutions and helps for one another we leave something for someone else to deal with at a future date.  And that makes us all look bad.