Thursday, December 27, 2012

Referee's Most Embarrassing Moment

I worked a JV boys basketball tournament this afternoon and overall had a good day.  I had two games which were the semi-finals for this particular bracket of the tournament.  The first game was a bit of a mismatch as one of the teams was just a little bit more athletic and they won by 20.  The second game was a tight and ugly affair.  Both teams struggled to get into their offense though the winning team eventually pulled away for a 39-33 win.

I would normally talk about the game but the second game gave me a "old man" or "referee's most embarrassing" moment.  During a transition, I TRIPPED AND FELL hard to the ground.  Whoops.  I think I got my feet crossed up a bit.  I bounced right back up and get back into the play with no harm done.  Well, except my hamstring is a little tight, my hip is a little sore and I scratched up my left elbow a bit.

I wasn't embarrassed as things happen occasionally.  :)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Long Day Of Officiating

When I first started officiated youth basketball around 1993, I dedicated myself to it.  I would leave my Friday evenings and Saturday's open just so I could officiate.  Whether the gym was near or far, I made the trek out there.

As time as moved on, I realized I didn't want to spend my whole day officiating.  It's tiring.  It can be stressful.  Simply put,  sometimes officiating is something that should be done in moderation.   So for much of the past five years or so, I've cut back and work a few games here and there.  I look at it as a chance to catch up with people around the league, get a little exercise and get paid for it.

Today was a major exception.  Due to a major shortage of officials, I signed up for SEVEN games spread over two gyms.  I'm too tired to write a ton but some highlights and lowlights on the day.

  • The first two games of the day (4th grade / 5th grade) were barn burners.  The 4th grade game ended up with one team winning at the buzzer 11-10.  The 5th Grade game had a final score of 24-22.  It was a fun / intense way to begin a game.  
  • At the first gym, I was officiating solo.   It was fine for the 4th grade game but the 5th grade / 6th grade games I had were challenges to work due to the teams pressing.  I made it through but it wasn't the easiest thing in the world to do. 
  • During the fourth grade game, an interesting situation occurred.  The wining team actually had TWO players with the game uniform numbers.  I was not aware of this when the game started but heard the coach mention to someone.  As the third quarter started, I issued a technical the protest of the coach.  The coach said "The school issued the uniforms like this and the other teams they had played in the weeks prior were ok with the jersey situation".  I politely disagreed with the coach and strongly suggested he take up the issue with the school.   The coach actually disagreed with me on this. 
  • After working my first three games, it was time to get some food.  The area I was in had good food but parking was difficult.   After thinking about it for a few minutes, I decided to try and park at a nearby gym where an adult basketball tournament was going on.  I was going to be working the tournament tomorrow but wanted to take a look at the games happening.  PLUS, I knew they had some food there for players, coaches and officials.  I was fortunate to find a parking space near the gym.  I managed to watch a game, talk to a few folks, have a "pre-game" with one of the officials tomorrow (he was working today as well), and of course get some food. 
  • After getting my food, I went off to officiate my second set of games.  Parking around this gym was a pain.  I looked around for some 20 minutes before settling on a stop 2 blocks (including one hill) away. This second set of games had higher caliber of teams but there wasn't anything too eventful. 
  • The one exception was from a 5th grade team.  The visiting team was losing.  In the fourth quarter, a home team player set a pretty bad screen.  Both my partner and I had the foul called.  However, the assistant coach of the visiting team was complaining about the foul being flagrant or intentional.  It was just a BAD SCREEN.  I had to tell the assistant to calm down as I understood they were losing and maybe frustrated.   After the game, the assistant coach told me he was offended that I had mentioned they were losing.  He told me he was going to report me to the league for my comments (sure, go on ahead).  
  • On the flip side, a parent of the home team also talked to me and my partner after the game.  The parent mentioned that a coach of the visiting team had made some comment to his son.  The coach had said something about the son being a "dirty player" or something.  I was a little shocked but not entirely surprised given the assistant coach's attitude toward me earlier.    I informed the home team parent that I would mention the incident to the league. 

All in all, it was a long day but a good day.  The weirdness aside, the games were competitive for the most part and the coaches were generally ok.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Here, There, Everywhere

A bit of a busy day today.  Originally, it wasn't supposed to be this way but it was fine:

I officiated three light girls basketball scrimmages in the AM.  I was planning to volunteer to begin with when I was asked last week.  However, as I had to also clear a fine for missing a meeting for my officiating group, the scrimmages this morning served a dual purpose.   It was a little odd officiating the scrimmages.  The teams were playing 18 minute games (two 9 minute halves) with no free throws.  The usual rules like backcourt and shot clock were off.  Despite that, one of coaches we had was chirping a bit.  Beyond that, the kids played hard and all the officials working the various games got some good work out of it.

I went to grab some lunch afterward and then played some pick up ball with friends for a few hours.  I didn't really tired but my shot was WAY off most of the day.  Maybe it was the Turkey!  

After playing ball, I grabbed a quick snack and rest a bit before officiating a men's alumni basketball game at another high school.  The game was pretty competitive and went into over time with the varsity men's team prevailing.

All in all, I would never recommend people run around like I do.  But doing it occasionally if ok.  I'm a little tired but some dinner will help and I have one more day of rest before going back to work on Monday.  :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Alumni Night

A few days ago, I got an email from a fellow official asking if I would work my old high school's BOYS BASKETBALL alumni game.  It was a bit of a surprise as this particular official had worked the boys basketball alumni game with a retired official for the past several years.  Apparently, the retired official was unavailable tonight.  Since I was an alumni of the high school and had worked the girls basketball alumni game in previous years, I was the next logical candidate.   I accepted the invite very quickly.

Interestingly enough,  while I had not officiated the girls basketball alumni game last year, I was surprised the girls basketball coach had not reached out.  I need not have worried.  The coach reached out to me a day or two afterward to work the girls basketball alumni game and I ended up working a double header tonight.

The girls game was pretty low key.  The girls varsity team had only six players due to some player turnover while the alumni had about nine players.  The alumni won the game but the varsity girls worked hard and kept it competitive for much of the game.

On the other hand, the boys game was expected to be a blowout.  The boys varsity team had struggled last season and this season's team was very small of stature.  I didn't remember too many kids who were above 6 feet tall (if any).  On the other hand, the alumni had several big players.

However, the boys varsity team made a good effort and hung tough despite a distinct size advantage.  To be fair, the alumni did take it easy on the boys varsity team.  They didn't exploit the size advantage they had as they wanted to give the boys varsity team a chance to practice their sets.   The alumni did ultimately win but the boys varsity team showed they can play a little bit.

From a learning perspective, the girls alumni game was just a "get back on the court" and get a feel of officiating.  It's been a while since I worked a regulation high school game.

For the boys alumni game, I worked in a three person crew.  While I won't be working three person crews too often during the high school season, it was good to work with the other two guys.  It was pointed out that I was doing some things ("working a little too high as the C") that I hadn't realized.  Just like anything you do in life, you never know you're doing something until it gets pointed out.

Overall, it was a fun night to get back on the court, talk to a lot of folks and hang out a bit afterward.  A great way to begin the Thanksgiving holiday!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Getting Back Into The Swing Of Things

After a year off from high school basketball officiating, the time is coming around for me to get back into the swing of things.    To be honest, I haven't been too interested in officiating basketball.  I noticed a decided lack of interest in officiating my adult league in recent weeks.

A part of it is the "sameness" of the league.  The league has only a few teams and teams play each other twice during the season.  Plus the court is small so the action is more half court oriented than fast breaks.

Tomorrow night, I open my season by working two alumni basketball games (girls / boys) for my old high school.  My officiating schedule will definitely be light this year.  I just do not have enough time in the work day to try to balance officiating with my job.  I intentionally limited my schedule this season and that is fine for me.

I'll provide more updates on the blog as I go through this new season.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Odd Night At The Gym

Something I typically do before officiating my youth basketball and volleyball games is check the standings.   I check the standings to get an idea of the possible competitiveness of a game.

For my slate of four youth volleyball games tonight, I did not do this.  However, the gym director did and here's what I found out:

There were four games (5 PM, 6 PM, 7 PM, 8 PM).  The first game was a 4th grade game and followed by a 7th grade game and two 8th grade games.

Out of the eight teams playing, SEVEN of the teams were WINLESS.  The eighth team had only one win.  Keep in mind, this is the around the 4th week of the season so all the teams were definitely struggling a bit.

But with a slate of struggling teams playing each other, odd things were bound to happen.

In the first game, one of the winless teams (Red) swept Blue 25-12, 25-11.   Both teams may have been winless entering the game but the Red teams looked a lot better than Blue.

The last three games also have a strange vibe to them:  The team that won the first set proceeded to LOSE the final two sets.  However, while the three older teams didn't have great records, all of them played hard and the fans were quite engaged.

At the end of the night, three of the seven winless teams got their first victory.  The one win team had to sweep the last two sets to gain their second win of the season.

Despite the weirdness, it was an entertaining night of officiating volleyball.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Transitions & Setting Priorities

I've been officiating youth basketball since 1993 and high school basketball since 2002.  When I first started officiating youth basketball, it wasn't because I loved it.  Like my high school or college aged kids these days, I was strictly officiating for the money.

I was living at home and going to college nearby.  I wasn't working at the time though I spent a great deal of time as a volunteer basketball coach for my grammar school.  Since I was coaching, doing officiating made a lot of sense.  I could earn a bit of money during the time I was not coaching.  

I kept officiating youth basketball for many years but I found myself getting bored.  The games felt repetitive and I had stagnated a bit.  In was in the Fall of 2002 that I joined my local high school officiating group.  

Jumping into high school games was a change.  Though I thought I was a good official, I found that I had a lot to learn.  While it has taken me a lot of years to feel comfortable, I found that the learning experience renewed my enthusiasm as the youth level as well.  

Unfortunately, I ran into a lot of roadblocks with my high school officiating.  For one, my work schedule never really allowed me to officiate as many high school games as I wanted to.  Yet despite the roadblocks, I had some good years where I managed to work some playoff games.   While there are many who aspire higher, I am happy to have gotten a chance to work in the playoffs. In an ideal world, I would like to get a chance to work any games I wanted to and not worry about work.  But the world is not always ideal.  

Last year was a bit of a transition.  I had some things I wanted to take care of so I took the year off from high school officiating.   I made a decision this past May to return to high school officiating.  Though I decided to return,  I made a quiet decision to reduce my schedule. 

There were many reasons for this.  One was that I was quite settled in my job.  Leaving work early to officiated 4 PM games were just difficult in my position.  In years past, I would MAKE every effort to cut out of work to go officiate.  I wouldn't accept every early game but i would take a few and decline others just so I could go work. 

However, I no longer could leave early consistently.  I have a sales team I need to support.  While they don't need me every day, lots of things come up at the last moment.   I had to set the priority that my job comes first and my hobbies come second. 

But beyond the work situation, I also had been scaling back officiating overall the past few years.  Many times, officiating would get in the way of meeting up with friends or even just playing basketball.  I told myself that my personal life was more important than being an official.  

Thus as I enter the 2012-2012 high school season, my priority is to enjoy the games (even if they are only a limited number) I do get.  I'm not concerned about the quality or the level of the game.  In the past,  I was concerned about the quality of the games I was getting because I hoped I could work my way up.  These days, I'm going to enjoy being at the gym, working with my partner, and a chance to get some exercise.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

NFL Replacement Officials ARE Real Officials

There's been a lot of complaints by coaches and other interested parties about the quality of the replacement officials in the NFL.   The thing that irks me is that many people are calling for the "REAL" NFL referees to return as soon as possible.

Guess what?  The replacement ARE real referees.  According to the news reports I've read, most of the replacement officials work junior college,  Division II and Division III college football.  The quality of football at that level is not comparable to the NFL (or even Division I).  However, these officials ARE BETTER than your usual couch potato who's watching an NFL game from home.

It's unfortunate these replacement officials are being thrust into this position.   As a basketball official, I fully understand what these replacement officials are going through.  As a sports official, most people work their way up from the youth leagues, high school, college and then possibly the pros.

As you go up the chain, the quality of the games increase and there's only so many people that have the ability to work at the college and pro levels.   There is the physical ability to keep up with elite athletes. The other part is the knowledge and judgement to make quick decisions during a game.

For me personally, I'm perfectly fine officiating youth, high school and adult league basketball.  But even then, I don't officiate top flight varsity high school basketball.    I've done my share of games and I'm reasonably competent in what I do.

However, I've worked summer camps and leagues with higher level of high school teams.  Early on, it was a TOUGH adjustment to officiate higher quality games.  Over time, as my experience has grown, things have gotten easier.

The replacement officials are likely facing the same thing.  Most people usually don't go from officiating lower level football to working NFL games.  There is a process to ensure the integrity of the games.  The NFL's lockout of the regular officials have forced more inexperienced officials to work.  Yes, it is not looking pretty but in time they will get better.

But don't say that these "replacement officials" are not REAL officials.  They willingly accepted these assignments and without them, there would be no NFL games for us to watch.  While some of the officials may be struggling a bit, I am sure that some of them are ENJOYING the experience.  After all, there are only a select few that get the chance to officiate in a professional sports league.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Two Things You Should Not Do In A Basketball Game

This past Monday evening, I wrapped up PLAYING in one of my summer basketball leagues.  With only five players, my team (White) raced out to a 25 point halftime lead and hung on for a 60-50 victory over the Gold team.  We finished with a 3-4 record which could have been better if a few bounces had gone our way in the previous two games.

The next evening, I flipped hats and officiated a few games for the same league.  I worked with a friend who briefly officiated high school basketball for a couple of years but stopped.  We started off with two women's first round playoff games.  Both games went uneventfully except for a technical to one of the women for swearing (this is a christian church league).

The final game of the night was an interesting one.  It was not a playoff game but just an exhibition game between the Blue and White teams.  The Blue team played in the summer league's "A" Division.  The White team was a traveling tournament team that was sponsored by the league itself.  The White team had spent the summer playing exhibition games against different teams throughout the league.

The Blue team was bunch of young college aged guys.  They had finished second in the league and are preparing to play in their semi-final playoff Friday evening.  The White team had some youth but also some veterans from years past.  Blue was looking to earn some respect but White was looking to show they could hang with the young guns.

The game was close throughout but White's experience proved to be the difference as they won by 7 or so.

It was also a bit of a learning experience for Blue as there were a couple of things that happened that hurt them:

A Blue player nailed a contested three pointer early in the second half.  As the Blue player (and I) ran back the other way,  I saw the Blue player turn around and point his finger at the White defender and shake his head.  I immediately blew the whistle and issued a technical for unsportsmanlike conduct / taunting.

Late in the game, White had pulled away to 3 to 5 point lead.  Blue was trying to play pressure defense and get some steals.  White broke down the defense and went in for a layup.  A Blue player (different from #1 above) went to contest the shot at the rim.  Alas, it was to no avail.  The White player got the shot off and the basket was going in.  The Blue player, who was still in the air from contesting the shot, grabbed the rim all of a sudden.

I immediately blew the whistle.  I counted the basket and also handed out a technical to the Blue player for grabbing the rim.

In analyzing the situations, the first technical was fine.  However, the second technical was a little questionable.  My partner and the player said he was trying to protect himself (at least a little bit).

From my perspective, I had closed in on the play and my focus was strictly at the rim.  I felt the player had grabbed the rim unnecessarily.  I wish there was a tape of the game so I could review.

But regardless of whether I was correct or not, the game was interesting and I learned a few things.  The taunting was an obvious ons and I did what was needed.  The second situation was slightly different.  I called the technical and according to the rule book, I was RIGHT in calling in (if the player just grabbed the rim in frustration).  So even though I didn't really remember the rule, I did the right thing (at least based on the information I had on hand).

All in all, it was a fun game to officiate.  There were some things to deal with afterward (some heated things as I knew people on both teams) but those were taken care of.  Tomorrow, I get to work with some fellow high school officials on more league playoff games.  That should be fun!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Summer League / Tournament Time

Around 2nd second week of April, I formally inquired with my high school officiating association when I needed to inform the group if I wanted to return for the 2012-2013 season.   I was told before the end of April.  After taking a few weeks, I formally requested to be reinstated for the 2012-2013 season.  After paying some dues, I was back in action.

I officiated in some youth tournaments and a couple of high summer basketball tournaments in mid June.   While the youth tournaments and the high school summer tournament was relatively competitive, the tournament I officiated on this past Sunday was definitely a big step up.

Unlike the previous high school tournament, the teams participating were playing most of their varsity squads.  In an odd twist, my partner and I were informed that player fouls were to be COUNTED officially (most summer tournaments don't really do this).   My understanding was the tournament hadn't done this most of the weekend and even the coaches were surprised.  This made for some intense basketball as all three games I worked were nail biters (3 point game, 2 point game and 1 point game).

My partner was a veteran official who works in my association and so I talked to him quite a bit.  We double whistled a few times and one time he disagreed with my call of a player control foul.   I also got a coach in the first game annoyed (and on our cases throughout) with my foul call and reporting of the wrong player number.  I fully admit to missing the player number.  However, this was due to the fact that the players were wearing summer league uniforms with only numbers in the back.   It was not a good way to start the game but I felt we did fine overall during the game.

That was one of my biggest take aways from officiating on Sunday.  In the past, I would have been a little wound up or bothered with the coach on my case.  I listened to his complaints, addressed it and keep on officiating.  I did it for all three games.  The coaches may not have liked every call (or no call) but they had to accept it.

All in all, I felt my confidence in officiating has jumped up a bit.  The question is why?  The answer is actually pretty easy.  As an official, if you are making the effort to be in position to see the majority of the plays in a game, you will be in position to explain a call (or non-call ) to a coach who disagrees.

I can't emphasize how important it is to talk to coaches.  It was NEVER my favorite activity in years past.  But in my regular job as a Sales Engineer, I talk to Sales people at work all day and to potential customers.   As a Sales Engineer, I get a ton of technical objections from potential customers.  I have to know my products to overcome these objections.  The same principal applies to officiating.  You have to know the rules but also see the plays to tell the coaches what you saw.  They may not like it but they will have to accept it.

Overall, I felt super comfortable officiating three high level boys varsity summer tournament games.   I felt good considering I had not worked anything remotely close to this level since the 2010-2011 high school season.   Maybe the time off helped!  All in all,  it was a fun Sunday and looking forward to working other games in the future.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Interesting Day....To Say The Least

I had a very busy week overall.  I was in San Diego from Monday to Friday for business and returned late Friday evening.  I had some dinner after landing and then went home.  I spent some time uploading photos and doing a few things.  Alas, I stayed up rather late and that led into my day today. 

I was supposed to officiate a girls basketball tournament (9th grade) at 9 AM this morning.  I accepted the games knowing full well I was coming back from San Diego.  Alas, sleeping late last night did not help.  While I had my alarm set properly, I slept right through it.  I woke up at 9 AM and thought "CRAP!".  

I got myself ready in 5 minutes and went out the door.  My partner had held up the game a bit but couldn't wait forever.  So I showed up at 9:20 AM or so with about 3 minutes left in the 1st quarter of the first game.   

If you've ever been LATE to anything, you know it's not a great feeling.  Fortunately, I eased my way into the first game and the rest of the games also went fairly well.  

Some random thoughts about the day though:

Waking up and jumping right into the game 20 minutes later may have been helped.  I hadn't officiated anything about 8th grade in a while.  While the games today weren't super competitive, it was an upgrade in competitive level versus some of the youth basketball I had been working in the past few months.  

I felt I was pretty sharp and mechanics were fairly strong.  My calls were pretty good and I felt comfortable out there.  I had some hiccups early as I wasn't completely awake but those weren't a big deal.   I was went with the flow and things went alright (with the exception of below).  

In the second game, I had to give a technical to a team due to the assistant coach constantly yapping.  The assistant coach had complained a bit throughout the game.  After one play, I ran over to the head coach and politely asked her to calm her assistant coach down.  Of course, as I am talking to the head coach, the assistant coach made another snide comment.  I just issued the technical at that point. 

Though I wasn't paying 100% attention during a time out later, the assistant coach may have did a bit of a stare down.  To be honest, I didn't pay attention and ignore the assistant coach. 

In discussing the situation with a college official later on in the day, she said I could have gave the assistant coach another technical for doing the stare down.  

In talking to the same college official, I mentioned a couple of other things that happened.  Mainly, it involved a situation during a youth game where a player committed an offense foul and then swung an elbow at the defender (did not connect).  I issued a technical for the elbow and did not eject the player.  Alas, later on the player swung her elbows again later in the game (I believe with the ball) and we called an offensive foul. 

This is definitely something I need some clarity on and figure out if I did the correct thing.  My partner that night said we were right.  I will still double check the rule book. 

All in all, the day started oddly but ended well!  

Friday, April 20, 2012

Never Take A Game For Granted

Forgetting all the rules and mechanics of basketball officiating, there are usually two truisms that found to be true when officiating.

ONE - Never take a game for granted.   No matter how team's records are or if they don't look too good during warmup, you always need to be prepared to work the game.

TWO - If you are working a set of games (usually youth or adult leagues), the LAST game is usually the hardest or most difficult to work.

I found both of these to be true tonight in working some youth games.  I had a set of three games to work (6th grade, 4th grade and 3rd grade - all girls). It was a bit unusual to have a 3rd grade game to be the last one in my set but that was how it was on the schedule.  Since the 6th grade game needed a partner, I had a partner to work both the 6th grade and 4th grade games with me.   However, I was to work the 3rd grade solo.

The 6th grade / 4th grade games were mellow and uneventful.  My partner was someone I hadn't worked with before but I knew him from seeing him around.  We were just spending time talking about officiating and other things.

As the 4th grade ended, I noticed there was pretty large uptick in fans filing in for the 3rd grade game.  In one sense, it was unusual but on the other hand, 3rd graders usually get more fans than the older kids.  I didn't think much about it though.

As it turned out, the 3rd grade was the best game of the night.  On one hand, it was fun to work.  On the other hand, it was a bit of surprise to me to see the competitiveness.  Right off the bat, I called 3 or 4 fouls on both teams as the kids came out hard.

The game was intense and I had to work hard (especially solo) to cover everything.  Some parents were a bit idiotic as usual and the gym director had to calm them down a bit over some situations.

The final score was 20-18 and I exited the gym as soon as the game ended.  While I didn't necessarily take the 3rd grade game for granted, I definitely didn't think it would be played at a high level.  Fortunately, I was able to get my intensity level up and focus and get past the game relatively well (though parent may disagree).  It was a good reminder that any game can be competitive and you have to be ready.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Encouraging Players As An Official

I've officiated sports for nearly 20 years.  As I have piled on the years, I noticed that I run into a ton of former youth and/or high school players who recognize me.  Not only do they recognize me, they remember parts of games where I officiated and something happened.  It's actually a good feeling when people remember you as an official.  

I mention this because a couple of years ago, I ran into a current high school basketball player who recognized me from her youth days.  I was officiating some of her club team basketball games and so she said hi.  Turns out she was playing varsity for her high school as well.  As I worked a few JV games at her high school the past two seasons,  we would always say hi.

As I had not officiated high school this season, I had not run into her at all.  However, I decided to stop by her team's state playoff game tonight.  It was an opportunity to watch a good game and say hi to the the young lady.  Her team ended up winning and will have a long commute to their semi-final game.

Unfortunately, the young lady did not play in the game.  However, we did chat after the game a bit.  When I asker her how her season had been going,  she expressed disappointment that she hasn't played much this season after starting last season.   While I never played high school basketball myself, I encouraged her to stay positive and enjoy the experience.   After all, playing for your school only comes once a lifetime.

Though the young lady only knows me as an official, she probably didn't realize I was also a coach for a long time.   It was great that she was willing to share her feelings about her season and I was thankful for an opportunity to give her some positive encouragement.   It's not part of my regular job description as an official but just like I encourage friends when they are down (and vice versa),  I just did what I thought was needed.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

To officiate, one must LOVE to officiate

I started officiating youth basketball almost 20 years ago (1993).  In 2002, I branched out to officiate high school and adult basketball.  In 2009, I jumped into officiating youth volleyball.

When I started officiating,  it was more of a side job than anything else.   I was in college and getting paid to do officiate was cool.   However, as the years went on, I stayed with officiating even as I migrated from a college student to a full-time worker.  While the money was nice, I realized I just like being out on the court.

However, it was the lack of passion that caused me to take a leave of absence from officiating high school basketball this year.   There were a few different things going on and officiating was just not on the list of my priorities.   Though it wasn't planned, I ended up not officiating youth basketball for a while though I decided to get back into things the past couple of months.

The ultimate lesson is that officiating basketball at any level requires some love, passion and dedication.  You might be able to get away with officiating for money or other reasons for a short time.  But dealing with coaches, parents and players is a challenge and ultimately there comes a point where you have to decide if it's worth your time to officiate just for money (or other reason) other than the fact that you enjoy it.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Back in the Breach again / Why some parents should stick to just being spectators

In October, I decided to take a leave of absence from officiating high school basketball and other leagues there were assigned by my high school association.  It was a good choice as I got time to do some things myself and try a few other things along the way.   However, I had intended to keep officiating youth basketball a little bit.  However, due to various things, I ended up officiating any basketball until about 3 weeks ago.  I ended up with a 4 to 5 month break.

The break was good for me and I feel I am quite sharp as I work my youth games.  The confidence is there and my demeanor / attitude is very much business like.  I don't take a lot of stuff from coaches or players and have issued a technical every week that I have been back.

Speaking of technicals, I had to issue a technical to a player (slamming the ball on the ground after a fould was called on him) and a double technical / ejection to the player's coach (let's call them the Blue team).   Thanks to all of this, the Blue team ended up losing the game.

Some time in the 3rd quarter, I had called a foul on a Blue player.  The Blue player proceeded to slam the basketball on the floor.  I issued the technical foul and those two fouls were the Blue player's 3rd and 4th personal fouls.  The Blue coach was disagreeable to the technical saying I should have given the player a warning since his team only had 5 players.  I told him a warning was only courtesy and not necessary.

The game went on and like any other game between two equal teams, neither could pull away.  Both teams exchanged baskets into the 4th quarter.   The Blue team looked to have control but White tied the game at 18-18 with about 25 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

The Blue team had a final chance.  The kid I had given the technical earlier tried to drive and elbowed the defensive player out of the way.  That was an easy player control foul call for me to make.  The White team called timeout to setup a final play with about 18 seconds left.

The Blue team coach was not happy and probably stared me down the entire timeout.  To be honest,  I didn't care and did not pay attention to him at all throughout the timeout.  It was business as usual for me.

As the White team proceeded to get on the court, the Blue team coach refused to put his team on the floor.  I asked him several times but he refused saying I owed him 30 seconds (it's 20 seconds now coach....hahaha) as his player fouled out.  I told him the delay didn't apply as he had no subs.

The Blue coach finally put his team on the floor.   As I prepared to get the game going again, I sensed the Blue team coach would have more to say so I decided to hold the ball and wait for him.  As I expected, the coach became unhinged.

He yelled at me that this was the first the whole season he had seen a player control foul.  He didn't believe I would call it on the kid with 4 fouls.  I gave him the first technical and warned him that I didn't need to hear anymore.  He continued on and I handed out the second technical and ejected him.   The game should have been over as the league has a three technical foul rule but I forgot about the initial technical to the player.

In any case, a couple of the Blue team parents took over coaching duties.  Given the tense situation, I warned them that any further misconduct would result in a forfeit.   They weren't really in the mood to listen and were pretty rude.  I understand their attitude and wanting to defend their team and coach but in this case, they were completely wrong.

Regardless, the White team made one free throw and they won the game 19-18.  One of the parents who took over as coach made a snipe remark as he left.  I just ignored them as my partner and I took refuge away from the court.

This coach and parents were about the worst I have seen in recent years.  I submitted a report to our league and there will probably be some action taken.  Parents and coaches are sometime so focused on their own team that they don't realize how their actions go.  These same people also don't know that I'm a veteran official and been around longer that they realize.  I also know their athletic director as well.

These folks really should just stick to being spectators.  That will make things a lot  more peaceful.