Friday, January 21, 2011

Never Judge A Game By It's Cover

A couple of weeks ago or so, I was assigned to the a varsity girls basketball game which I worked tonight. The game was scheduled at 6:15 PM which indicated it was a rivalry game.  The freshman and sophomore boys and girls teams would play earlier in the afternoon while the boys varsity teams would play after the girls.   The game was held at a school which I was super familiar with.  One of my adult basketball leagues plays at the school every summer so it was almost like coming home.

While I was familiar with both schools that were playing, I was not familiar with either team.  I personally like to get an idea of the teams that are playing so I did a little research.  The home team was 2-10 overall for the season while the visiting team was 11-5 overall for the season.   Judging from the team's records alone, I thought the game could be a major mismatch.  The good news was that I was working with a good partner so I was eager to work no matter how the game turned out.

However, never underestimate the effect the home court has on teams.  In front of a packed house, the home team played inspired basketball and led throughout the game.  At one point they had an 11 point lead.  As the game entered the fourth quarter, the home team was still leading.  I remember thinking "The visiting team hasn't made their run yet".  Lo and behold, the visiting team went on a tear, eventually took the lead and pulled away for a 6 point victory.

My partner and I were on the same page throughout and the game flowed fine.  However, there were a couple of fouls that I probably wished I did something different.  One foul on the home team I could have passed on. The other foul on the home team could have been passed on or called on another player.  The second foul call was a tough one as I fouled out the home team's best player.  There was also another minor hiccup when my partner didn't realize I had called a shooting foul and initiated a switch with me that wasn't required.

Besides that, it was a fun game to officiate.  These kind of games are a little far and few between for me.   But when they come along, I enjoy them completely.  I hope to get more before my high school season is over.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

It's All In The Details

After spending a week in Virginia, I hit the ground running when I came back into town Friday.  Six hours after I landed, I was working a JV girls basketball game.  The game was competitive and we got by without a hitch.

Today, I worked a boys and girls varsity double header for an independent high school basketball league The league is comprised of smaller schools that do not participate in the State basketball playoff structure.  I've worked some of these games before as did my partner.  We knew what to expect in terms of intensity and play.

However, because these teams are outside of the State playoff structure, they aren't particularly well versed on some of the finer details of the rules even though the National Federation Basketball rules still cover their league.

Among the things my partner and I noticed:

  1. One team had no numbers on the front of their jerseys (Federation Rule)
  2. Another team had the numbers 7 and 17 on their jerseys (only numbers 1 through 5 allowed)
We caught this and did what we needed to address the situation (technicals) and the games were played like usual.  My partner and I had a good laugh about the situation because officials can sometime take things for granted.   We assume that all schools know what they are doing but it took an example of today that not every school knows what is going on. 

It was a good reminder today to stay mentally focused on the details. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

An Unusual Day Of Officiating

Today was a bit of an odd day.  I was checking the news today and was shocked to read that a popular and well known local varsity basketball coach had suddenly passed away yesterday at the age of 50.  While I personally didn't know this particular coach that well, I had seen him around.  In fact, I had seen him as recently as a week ago during a basketball tournament.  The coach was there scouting a team that they were going to play during their league season.

Due to the sudden death of the coach, the first game for his boy's varsity basketball team was postponed until a later date.    However,  the rest of the league continued on.  In an interesting coincidence, I was scheduled to work the girl's varsity basketball team from the same school where the coach had just passed away.   Before the game, both coaches and teams had a moment of silence.

I think I was a little distracted due to the death of the coach.  Even though I didn't know him well, it's sad to think about all the friends, family and kids the coach left behind.  In fact, I think the school's girls varsity team was affected as well.  The girls seemed out of sorts as well as the girl's varsity coach (whom I know).

Focusing on the officiating aspect, it was not an easy game to officiate.  Both teams were pretty sloppy early and it was difficult to get a flow.  If you've never officiated in this particular gym, the configuration is not conducive to officiating.  The gym is long enough but the walls are basically out of bounds.  The team's benches are located at one end line.

Therefore, you are basically on the court the whole time and getting angles is difficult.  At the end line where the benches are located, you are in no man's land.  If you stay on the baseline, there's not enough depth to get angles on some plays.  If you go wide to the wall to get a wider angle, you lose vision on some post play.

Given the distraction of the moment of silence and the general sloppiness of play, I felt I was a little out of sorts throughout the game.  The game was competitive and overall my partner and I took care of our business.   However, this was one of more difficult games to work recently.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

It's A Matter Of Perspective

About a month or so ago, I was officiating a freshman/sophomore girls basketball tournament and had a conversation with my partner between games.  What stood out during the conversation was my partner's point about being careful when you talk about a call your partner made.

There were two specific points about this.  The first point is that some partners DO NOT LIKE having other people questioning their calls, even if it's just to discuss things.    If you know your partner well, then it's not a particularly big deal.  However, if it's a partner you don't know well, you may have to dance carefully, even if your intention is not to offend.   In fact, I may have done that a few weeks prior to a partner (again unintentionally).

The second point is the primary point though.  The fact is officiating is a matter of perspective.  Everyone in the gym from the players, coaches, fans, and scorekeepers have their own perspective.  However, it's the officials that have the final say.   Even though officials work together to manage the game, each official also has their own perspective.

What the lead official sees from his location may not be the same as the trial and vice versa.   My partner brought up an example where a play occurred and there was a camera angle that showed what the trial official saw.  From that perspective, there did not appear to be any foul.   However, when the angle of the lead official was shown, there was definitely a foul that was seen that could not have been seen from the trial's perspective.

It was a very eye opening discussion but a stark reminder at just how difficult officiating is.  As someone who's coached, played and officiated, I understand the difference perspectives involved.  However, folks who have not officiated before sometimes do not grasp this.  I hope that everyone will learn to appreciate that what you see on the court is determined by your perspective.  Officials are generally the ones with the best perspective as they are constantly moving.  Fans and coaches do not generally most themselves to get the best angle yet they are constantly berating officials for "missed calls".  I hope that fans and coaches get a better appreciation of this aspect instead of just blindly berating officials.