Friday, August 14, 2009

Basketball is a Contact Sport

In my posting Official Sales Engineer I mentioned that I got up around 6:30 AM last Thursday to officiate three basketball games starting at 8 AM. What I didn't mention was that I had FOUR more youth games in the evening starting at 5 PM. Crazy? Yes, those of us who do basketball officiating for a living are a little off kilter sometime. :)

I'd reffed these youth games the previous three weeks and you never know what you're going to get. The week before, I had a super exciting week with four exciting games. Three of them went into overtime and the point differential between all four games was seven points.

Given that I was tired from my morning games, I was hoping for a quiet evening. For the first three games, I got my wish. Two of the games were relatively low key and one of the games was a forfeit so I got to relax for an hour.

The fourth game didn't start off too badly either. The only difference between the fourth game and the others was there a lot of energy in the gymnasium. The coaches, players and fans were all in the game. Because of the energy, the kids were playing pretty hard but things were under control for the first three quarters.

However, as the third quarter ended, I knew the fourth quarter would be a tough one. The reason for this thought was the league allowed full court pressure defense in the 4th quarter only (for the age level). That potentially meant that kids would be running all over the place. Given the energy that had showed in the first three quarters, that wasn't necessarily a good thing.

Alas, the fourth quarter can be summarized by a few incidents that occurred. For sake of identifications, the teams will be identified by colors: RED and GREY

  1. RED team has the ball in the backcourt and GREY is using their full court pressure defense. RED player attempts a pass to a teammate near half court. GREY defensive player is also near half court. In an attempt to steal the pass, the GREY player knocks the RED player to the ground. I was following the play the whole way and whistled a foul on the GREY player. It was one those cases where both players were hustling and there was a lot of contact involved.
  2. Unfortunately, the RED player was hurt and unable to shoot his free throws (1 and 1 situation) so he was replaced. The RED coach was not happy over what had happened and had some words for the GREY coach. I had to warn both coaches not to speak too each other during the game.
  3. The game proceeded after this. My partner and I kept tight reins on things and things seemed under control.
  4. Unfortunately, a few minutes later another incident occurred. The GREY team got the ball and was on a fast break. I was the lead official and saw the GREY player was at least a couple of steps ahead of the closest RED defender. As the GREY player attempted the layup, the RED player made a wild attempt to block the shot from behind. The wild block attempt didn't go well. Not only did the RED player not get the block, because of the angle of his jump, the RED player landed on the floor awkwardly and hurt himself.
At this points, things went haywire. The RED coach was upset and thought things were getting out of control and informed me he was pulling his team off the floor. He was going to forfeit the game. Along the way, some of the RED parents were yelling as the us to "Control the Game". It was a pure madhouse. Since the RED coach insisted on forfeiting the game, I let him and his team leave. I submitted an incident report afterward as I assumed there would be some complaints from the RED team.

All in all, the ending was frustrating because the game had been close and competitive. The kids deserved a chance to finish the game. Instead, because of the walk out, I don't think anyone (officials, coaches, players, parents) left the gymnasium satisfied. In the future, I hope parents and coaches remember that the "game is for the kids".

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