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.