Grumpy Old Men | Judge Layne Smith

Grumpy Old Men | Judge Layne Smith

Q. Judge Smith, doing your job takes a lot of patience. What is your key to being polite and having an even keel? On or off the bench, is there anything that annoys you? Tanner

A. Being patient is part of a judge’s job description. It helps to like people and to empathize with their plights. I keep in mind that coming to court stresses regular folks. Therefore, judges and lawyers should make their visits as painless as possible.

It’s as simple as common decency and treating people the way you’d want them to treat you. Some people do not behave, even in court, but I try to keep them on task and treat them as kindly as they let me. I tell people I can be a teddy bear or a grizzly bear–it’s their pick.

You asked me to reveal my “grumpy old man” moment. Well, it’s lightning delays during college and NFL football games! I watched thousands of hours of football before the rule makers implemented the lightning delay rule. Yet, I don’t recall a single instance of a college or professional football player getting struck by lightning while on the field. Why is that? Because college and NFL stadiums have lightning rods.

The print on the backside of a game ticket used to warn people that they attended at their own risk–particularly regarding “acts of God.” Watching a football game already takes three to four hours. Lightning delays can add hours. Consider this– the fans who leave the stadium and walk to their cars are more likely to die from lightning strikes than those who stay put.

Maybe I missed the news, and lightning strikes are undue risks at college and NFL football games. I have a friend who is a college football
referee. Like me, he can’t think of a single instance where lightning struck a player or a fan in the stands. Further, I couldn’t find an example using the Google search engine.

I wonder if this rule is a solution in search of a problem. Don’t get me wrong–safety always matters, but so do statistics and common sense. I’d feel better about the long game delays if justifiable reasons exist, but like the guy from Missouri, please show me the evidence justifying this level of caution. Otherwise, it’s a costly cure for an imaginary problem.

Still, every time a lightning delay happens, I lose interest in the game and find something else to do instead. The older I become, the more I realize time is too precious to waste. Now, you kids, get off of my lawn!

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