I’m not much of a “goal-setter”, I’m really not. I get enough of the “goal-setting thing” at my workplace. Goals are an important part of our business, and coincidently, I seem to work best when the proverbial poop is hitting the fan and cash registers are failing, our back-up computer system seems to be taking a coffee break and the I.T. department on the other end of the phone is telling me “well…nothing seems to be working, how about you just unplug the main computer tower from the wall, wait fifteen seconds then plug it back in and see if that boots everything back to ‘normal’.” Improvisational, fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants, run it up the flag pole and see if anyone salutes kind of goal setting/managerial style seems to be my fortay during crisis’; goal setting runs a close second though it’s not as “exhilarating”.
So…as avid readers of Rich Ripley know, I’ve set a goal to become a certified basketball official for this coming season. It’s not as easy as I had originally thought, involving hours of reading, classroom time, instructional time on a basketball court listening to my peers instruct me as I (and my partner) officiate scrimmages, and the exams. I dread the exams.
To be a certified basketball official in the state of Iowa you need to do several things, for me that meant that I had to take (and pass) the girls basketball exam and the boys basketball exam. I hate testing. To make things easier for us the exams are on-line, open book, print out the test (study it for days if you like and write down the answers) then plug in the correct answers (true or false). That sounds easy enough to the average person but I am NO RHOADES SCHOLAR. I’m dead serious…no one ever copied my homework in school, no one has ever asked me “Hey Rip…what’s the answer to question #11?” While I may be “bright and commonsense filled (with “hilarious sidekick” a close third) taking tests has always, and probably always will be, the bane of my existence.
Here’s the deal; you can take and fail the exams twice, but you’d better pass the third time or you won’t be allowed to officiate games as a certified, registered, and honest to God Iowa High School Athletic Association & Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union basketball official, which is the goal that I set for myself (and since I rarely set goals for myself…this was of major importance to me. I was taking this personally…I didn’t want to “blow it off”). So it was with a good deal of trepidation that I printed off the exams and peered through four different books that contained rules, case plays, official duties and rationales and, hopefully, found the correct answers to all of the 85 questions that both exams contained.
Now this being completed I had a cup of coffee with my friend and officiating co-hort Doug who helped me find, and or, finalize some of the questions that I was having trouble finding, then I went to work a scrimmage. After the scrimmage it became painfully obvious that I had pulled a groin muscle (my own—not someone else’s) so doing all of the fun stuff that I had planned for my day off today (like raking leaves, going to the landfill, working out) was now off the table and sitting, icing my upper/inner thigh was now my priority I felt that maybe it was God’s way of telling me to “take the exams”, that way if I did fail them now I’d have three or four weeks to “get ‘em right” prior to the end exam date. Yep…God’s plan.
So it didn’t sit well with me, then, when I opened up my daily devotional and the first sentence read “Adversity can have a silver lining”, which I read as “oh man…I’m gonna tank both of these freakin’ exams this morning!!” It continued with the basic theme of “if you think that your problem is big, look at it with eternity as a backdrop or through the lens of eternity.” Well sure…a personal foul in a third grade game doesn’t look especially important if you do that, but tell that to that kids grandmother who’s staring you down from her perch in the fourth row of the bleachers! (I doubt that I’ll hear any “Hey ref!! You suck, but Jesus still loves you!!” chants from the bleachers in the coming winter)
It didn’t help matters that I bought two referee shirts with the IHSAA logo on them so I’d look especially qualified to officiate the lower level games that I was being assigned to work in a week (kind of like Barney Fife wearing a gun, but having that single bullet in his shirt pocket). I thought to myself “I can’t wear that shirt if I don’t pass those damned exams! That’d be misrepresentation!” (I’m honest if nothing else, that and witty to a fault).
So long story short…”who has two thumbs and passed both exams this morning? THIS GUY!!!” I’d stay and gloat a little more but my strained groin needs icing and all we have is frozen peas in the freezer (I like peas, maybe not this package when I’m done…but yeah). I’m proud, happy and grateful…which is a great place to be.