Dealing with Bad Calls
Jun 20, 2009Posted by james

One of the things that I love about sports is the rules. Clearly defined rules that make sure every aspect of the game - the playing field, the number of players, the boundaries of what you can and cannot do – is consistent and fair. Everything defined so that the best effort from the best athletes almost always wins.

But every once in a while something goes wrong. A referee misses a call or blows a call. Suddenly the fair fight we were in seems not so fair. And note here that bad calls are not the same thing as bad bounces. Bad bounces might also change the outcome of a game, but it is easier to see that bad bounces will eventually balance out. With bad calls, we start to wonder whether the call was just a stupid, human error, whether the rules aren’t being applied consistently, or worse, whether it was an intentional attempt to change the outcome (or speed up the game).

Bad calls can get into your head and affect your performance if you are not careful. Losing your focus and battling the referees instead of your opponent is almost always a recipe for disaster. Over adjusting and playing differently because of the call weakens your game.

So the number one thing I have learned from this is patience. Don’t change your game plan. Stay the course, use the outrage of the unfairness to pump yourself up, but don’t get out of your game because of the unfairness of the call. Just relax, have patience, and usually over the course of the game – and definitely over the course of a season - the bad calls on both sides of the field will balance out.


Sombrotto and Pannell defy the experts
Jun 03, 2009Posted by james

I learned that the “experts” are not always right, and
sometimes you have to look beyond ordinary indicators to find the extraordinary.

Here’s the story:

Vinnie Sombrotto was instrumental in my nephew Rob Pannell’s matriculation at Cornell University.  It was truly fitting because Sombrotto, like Pannell, was under recruited and overlooked by college coaches when he played high school lacrosse in the mid 1970’s.

Although both Sombrotto and Pannell excelled at the highest levels as high school lacrosse players, most lacrosse “experts” considered them too small and not fast enough to compete with best at the Division 1 level. Boy were those “experts” wrong.

Sombrotto, after his Chaminade high school lacrosse career was concluded, went on to become one of the best college players and a Division 1 All-American. At Hofstra in 1980, Sombrotto scored 37 goals and totaled 54 points in 13 games AS A MIDFIELDER on the 1980 Hofstra team. He was equally accomplished as a defender and a ground ball machine.

Incredibly, Sombrotto raised the bar as a LI – Hofstra Club Player, U.S.A Player and professional lacrosse player. He is a member of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame and was named to Newsday’s All-Century team along with Jim Brown, NFL Great and former Syracuse All-American lacrosse player.

Pannell concluded his high school lacrosse career at Smithtown West. The “little general” managed to eke out a Long Island’s best 130 points and was selected to the Boy’s high school All-American team. He attended Deerfield Academy as a PG in 2008 and went to work immediately. He shattered the school’s 40 year old scoring record with 6 games left in the season.

But it was not until the great Sombrotto called Cornell’s Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach, Jeff Tambroni, that Pannell would get the chance to showcase his lacrosse skills at an elite lacrosse program. Sombrotto told Tambroni, “the kid plays a lot like me”. Tambroni replied, “I’ll take him”. The rest is history.

Sombrotto and Pannell with an assist from Metzger.

P.S. - By the way, all Pannell did in his freshman year at Cornell; First Team All-Ivy, Ivy League Rookie of  the Year, Ivy Scoring Leader, 3rd Team All-American, NCAA All-Tournament Team, leading scorer in the NCAA tournament, Cornell freshman scoring record with 67 points.