Sunday, September 13, 2009

Back in Action / Rewarding the Defense

After a few weeks off, I was back on the court officiating basketball today. I was working a youth league that is run out of a athletic club here in the area. The youth league has different divisions for boys and girls from 5th graders to 12th graders.

Today, I was working three games that featured the younger kids. The games themselves were typical of the games I have worked in the past in this age bracket. You have one or two good players on each side and the rest of the kids are in various stages of development. Because many of the kids are inexperienced, they tend to congregate toward the ball. It's not an unusual sight to see six to eight players (offense and defense) all hovering near the basketball. It makes looking for off ball action a little hard when just about everyone on the court is NEAR THE BALL. :)

There was one thing I learned today from one of the games. The second game of the day, one of the teams (Black) was obviously better than the other team (White). The Black team was up by 12 points pretty early in the game and pretty stayed there throughout. Usually when it comes to this level of basketball (with inexperienced kids), I tend to take it easy on the losing team (when they are down big) when it comes to violations. If the players take an extra step or maybe accidentally double dribble, I might let it slip a bit as the kids are learning.

However, the Black coach (in the first half) was asking for me to call the violations. I know the coach so he wasn't really riding me or anything like that. Unfortunately, the action was pretty much non-stop through the first half so I didn't get to talk to coach. After running up and down the court a few times though, I did realize why he was asking me to call the violations. The Black coach was stressing to his team to play DEFENSE and he wanted to see his team rewarded when they forced the White team into violations. Once that realization dawned on me, I changed my focus a little bit and I did reward the Black team for their defensive efforts and didn't hear from the coach anymore.

All in all, learning this lesson was pretty valuable in many aspects. I never thought of the blowout situation from the winning team's perspective. They might be winning the game, but they may want to work on some things and expect to be rewarded as well. Plus, today's game reinforced that officials have to stay focused throughout a game even if it's a blowout.

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