I wasn’t going to write much about my basketball officiating experiences until after this first season of mine was finished, though some things have come up that I felt like sharing.
- I’m really impressed with the cool guys that I’ve met who are officials. Mind you, this is a group of men and women who no matter what they do are criticized thoroughly by either coaching staff, the team and their fans (the saying “damned if we do, damned if we don’t” comes to mind often). It’s nice to get their advice and honest critique. Still…I think that it’s fun and am having a blast on the court with the kids and my partner.
- It’s odd how some fans and coaches behave. I’d like to have their sideline behavior videotaped and played back when they’re at their real jobs or in church. IT’S A GAME PEOPLE! I worked a tournament this weekend where I had to work right next to the fans. It was a third grade girls game. Leniency on the rules are in order, or neither team would make it over the half court line and we’d have a five-hour game, yet fans (parents I assume) we’re screaming for blood as the other team would travel (a little) stay in the lane for longer than three seconds or just fall over their own feet (it’s a tough game at that age). My partner and I called the games evenly, managing the games with the rules (and the girls playing in it) in mind. As I was getting ready to hand the ball to a girl who was ready to inbound it to her teammate I asked “Are you ready to have fun?” Her response “Yes sir” with a freckle-faced smile. Good for her. I answered “me too.”
- One team who was behind by one point launched a half court shot just seconds after time expired. My partner and I were waving off the shot attempt as it was thrown. Sailing through the air it hit…nothing but the bottom of the basket. SWISH!! If it had been counted it would have won the game for them. You’d think that it would have crushed their spirits, the lose….but no…these are kids…they were just ecstatic that a member of their team make a basket from that far out, even though it didn’t count. They were still laughing and high-fiving each other as they walked off the court. Their coaches weren’t even mad. Kids.
- An hour later that same team played another team to a tie. In overtime each team battled away and made a few free throws to again…tie the score. With time running out we called a foul on the other team for a personal foul. The little girl was awarded two free throws. Dread and fear washed over her face. All she had to do was make one of those two free throws. She missed the first attempt. Her second attempt hit the rim, rolled around the top of the basket before settling into the net for one point and the win for her team…the same team that an hour earlier had just lost by a point after a half court shot wasn’t allowed. My partner and I hustled off the court and let the girls celebrate, thanked the volunteers for their help with the scoreboard and score sheets, and got a quick drink of water before our next game started in a few minutes. A few of the girls came over to shake our hands, which isn’t altogether uncommon but it’s nice.
It’s January 6th and I just ordered my baseball umpire equipment. Shin guards, face mask, chest protector, plate shoes, plate brush, rule and case play books, etc. I hope that baseball officiating brings me as much interesting and (somewhat) uplifting experiences that basketball has up to this point. Until then I’ll be practicing my baseball umpiring skills like the following video illustrates.
Now then…where does a guy my age find and buy a jock strap and cup? I’m sure looking forward to that conversation at the sporting goods store. Until then…peace.