Monday, January 21, 2013

You Have Questions, We Have Answers

I had lunch with a fellow basketball official in late November and he mentioned that he had heard about my blog. While he hadn't read it too much, he liked what I was doing and had a suggestion.  He asked me to write something along the lines regarding "officials and communication".

This particular post will focus a little bit on communication though not all of the items I will write about eventually.  Consider this a precursor and/or a complaint session!  

I am pretty sure I posted about this before but one of the lessons I learned about sports officiating is that you don't just "blow the whistle".    I've been told many times by other officials that I "blow the whistle" good.  In layman's terms, I have fairly good judgement on game situations.

While it is great that fellow officials support your judgement, 50% of your calls will not be favorable to a certain team.  Even if you are 100% sure you are right, there will be people (mainly coaches, sometimes players) that will question your calls. 

In years past, if someone questioned my call, I would either get defensive or angry (depending on the type of league and the situation).  Occasionally, I would also wonder if maybe "I got the call wrong".  That type of attitude really drains you of your confidence. 

Yet in the past few years, two things have changed.  One, I am more confident in my calls.  I don't question myself.  It doesn't mean I get things wrong but I don't get down on myself.  You just acknowledge that "maybe you could have done better" and just move on. The second part is most important though.  If someone DOES question you, then you have to give a good answer:   Coaches may not like your answer but they will respect you if you talk to them. 

I used to NOT like dealing with coaches.  Yet for some reason, I welcome coaches questioning me these days.  A part of it may be that my job requires me to talk to customers in a sales capacity.  I get questions (or objections) about our products on a daily basis.  In sales, you have to stay calm, be relaxed and deal with objections in a very factual manner.  Good practice for officiating!  

Now, onto the "complaint" section.   For some reason, especially in youth and adult leagues, complaining to officials is a given:

"Where's the foul"
"3 seconds"

If people are more polite and "ask" what the officials saw, we will be more inclined to respond more politely.  However, if people just scream at officials about missed calls, we are more likely to ignore them (at best) or give them a technical (at worst). 

As I noted in the subject line, "You Have Questions, We Have Answers".  People are always welcome to ask us a question (well, maybe not EVERY call, but major ones).  Officials will accommodate with answers as best they can. 

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