Upon further review….there’s more to say

As I ended my last blog (an award-worthy presentation) I was headed towards a small junior high school twenty minutes out of town in the country for an 8th grade boys game.  I was a little melancholy about it as it was my last school basketball game to officiate of this season.  I’ll miss officiating, period.  It gives me something to look forward to.  I meet great people.  I meet new people.  I make new friends. I see great athleticism up close. (there’s a lot of “I” in this…) Its a challenge to get it right, to manage situations and people in an emotionally charged atmosphere.  I love it.

That days “A” game featured two schools who have blossomed into conference rivals and their 8th grade teams really got after each other, throwing elbows and charging into other players.  I called two player control fouls and one team control foul in the FIRST HALF!! (the three other basketball officials reading this blog just said “THAT’S INCREDIABLE!!” while the rest of you just glossed over that part with a shrug of your shoulders).  Long story, short.  Great game that went down to the last second.  I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

Do you know what’ll make you feel old and very mortal?  The answer…falling down.  Flat, on your side from a running position.  I did exactly that…at that game, try THAT sometime.  Tripped on my own size 11 feet while turning towards the new front court as the players were headed towards me….tripped and fell to the floor…at half court…in front of a hundred or so people.  I won’t lie (like I normally do…). It hurtIt took my breath away.  As I laid there I wondered if my officiating partner that day would see me down on the floor and blow the play dead then rush over to inquire as to my good health and equilibrium.   Nope.  THAT, ladies and gentlemen, will make you feel old.  I should have just laid there at half-court until SOMEONE…SOME CARING INDIVIDUAL exclaimed “DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN!!  THAT WONDERFUL AND ADORABLE REFEREE HAS FALLEN!!  DOESN’T ANYONE CARE?!?!” but no one did…so I gamely got up and wobbled down court. One of the teams took a time-out shortly thereafter, thank God. I took the ball to half-court where we’d inbound it….right where I’d fallen.  As I walked to that area a lady looked at me, patted the video camera in her lap and told me “I got it all on video for you…”  The folks around her chuckled and I had to as well.  I replied “If you submit that to America’s Funniest Home Videos and win I want 25% off the top” and she topped that with “I thought that you might need it for insurance!”  Needless to say…I was sore for the next few days….hip and ribs.  Feeling old and venerable, but adorable…that’s the way that I ended the 2015-16 season.  (I knew that you’d want to know….)

I’ll jot a few notes during the season about the games that I’ve worked.  I don’t use many of them, though here are a couple of my favorites.

  • One Friday night, during a heated rivalry, we were officiating in a packed gym.  No one liked our calls.  Not the coaches.  Not the players.  Not the adults.  Not the kids.  We were getting an earful from all quadrants, and some of it pretty nasty stuff.  As I walked with the ball towards the far sideline (I rarely look up into the bleachers to make eye-contact) I neared and in the middle of a bunch of raucous adults voicing their displeasure I made eye contact with a older lady with bright red hair (probably somewhere in her sixties) who was sitting there…quietly…with a little smile on her face looking back at me as the folks around her protested.  She was so calm and pleasant in those surroundings. I gave her a quick wink and smirk.  She returned the wink and grinned.  I thank God for reasonable people in the midst of the foolhardy.  Play on.
  • At one of the junior high games that I worked I ran into two teams that were totally the opposite of each other.  One knew how to play the game very well, the other did not.  The first half ended with the score 38-5.  I didn’t call fouls (they didn’t foul…they were that bad) or traveling, or double-dribble and the opposing coach could see what I was doing and was very good about it.  They were awful and not having fun, you could tell by their body language and expressions.  Time drags during games like that.  Each whistle stops the clock.  Everyone in the gym is silently pulling for the bad team to do ANYTHING a little better.  Even the good team would steal the ball then cross over into the front court and would then back it out waiting for the defense to catch up with them.  Eventually one of the girls on the bad team launched a 1950’s style shot from behind the three-point line.  It hit the rim hard, bounced high then kissed the backboard before coming back down and rattling around the rim before settling into the net.  The gym explodedLiterally EXPLODED.  A three-point basket!!  On their next possession the same player launched another three-point attempt and….nothing but net!!  SWISH!!!  The gym was going bananas!!  Players were jumping up off their benches!!  The bleachers were filled with folks high-fiving each other while others laughed openly wondering “what got into her?!” types of looks.  I stole a glance at the opposing coach as I ran down court, she was doubled over laughing.  I’m not sure what the final score was, probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 60-15, but what will be remembered by practically everyone there were that players two back-to-back three-pointers, and the fun that they could now say that they had….playing in that game where sportsmanship prevailed. 

Many folks don’t have any idea just how much spandex basketball officials wear during games.  The answer is…A LOT.  I’m literally covered from my neck down to my knees in spandex, then knee braces, then two pairs of socks, one of which is a thirty dollar pair of compression socks….all covering a body lathered in Ben-Gay.  True story…we were getting ready to work a game when an older referee walked into the locker room.  He walked in, started saying something then abruptly stopped and exclaimed “WOW!!  SOMEBODY SMELLS GREAT IN HERE!!”  That…ladies and gentlemen…gets you noticed.  Ben-Gay.  Good for me.  Good for you.

Here’s something that’s kind of awkward.  For instance, the home school pays for the officials of that evening game(s).  Its roughly $90.  Most send you a check within a few weeks. I track whom I’ve been paid by and who hasn’t paid me.  As of yesterday’s mail I’m still owed by two schools, so on Monday…unless the checks arrive today…I’ll call those schools and ask if the checks have been issued.  It’s awkward at one school since the coach is the athletic director and it was his team that lost a hotly contested game on a shot that fell with a few seconds left to play.  “Umm…hi coach…remember me?  You planning on paying our crew for that nights double-header…?  Coach…?  Hello…?”

In conclusion (I’m wrapping it up…pay close attention) I’m starting to pay special attention to my weight.  In the past my weight has gradually increased, with no notable affects as I was skinny to begin with.  With middle-age and officiating so much during the year I could continue to eat like a teenager without consequence.  Before this past year losing weight was as easy as pie (I love pie…that’s a poor choice of words…but it’ll stay).  Last off-season I gained fifteen pounds, and it doesn’t become me.  After 70+ games I still have ten of those fifteen pounds. I’m now counting calories.  I’m now using portion control. I made it to the gym this morning and begrudgingly rode an exercise bike and burned off only enough calories to cover the tablespoons worth of raspberry preserve that I had on my English muffin for breakfast this morning.  For lunch…an egg and hash browns, and not much of those.  No more candy, or the dish of peanut M&M’s on the coffee table.  I have fresh and dried fruit. I have whole grain English muffins….and I’ll have to exercise more than ever since I still love to eat.  I’m hungry. It’ll be okay.  I’ll be fine.  I’m not looking to lose weight so much as to maintain, and to firm up what’s there. We were recently at a really nice hotel for my 50th birthday…in case you missed it, it was February 6th….I was reaching for something by the sink when I saw something jiggle in the reflection of the hotel mirror.  My man-boobs…they now jiggle.  ICAN’THAVE THAT!!  So yeah…I’m hitting the weights again.  A sad but true story.

In two weeks I’ll get to officiate again, this time at the Special Olympics Tourney.  Its a blast.  I get more fun and pleasure from the games that day than a weeks worth of working good teams.  The atmosphere is electric for them and restoring for me.  Blessed in different ways we’ll have fun…you can be sure of that.

Until next time…thank you for reading, God bless and take care,






It hurts rrriiggghhhtttt……here.

Computer searches are practically worthless to me.  All I want is a simple answer to my relatively simple question.  For example….I work for a grocery store chain and  occasionally I’ll have to look up something on our companies on-line catalog, like Betty Crocker chocolate cake mix.  For the uninformed, Betty Crocker makes ALOT of stuff….literally hundreds of products.  I entered several different variations of what I was looking for such as:

Betty Crocker cake mix…nope…don’t have any.

BC cake mix….nope…nothing found.

cake mix….I got pancake mixes instead

This went on for about ten minutes while I searched, swore, scratched my noggin and tried various other versions of getting the order number for said cake mix.  I knew that our warehouse sold them….I simply couldn’t find the correct aisle location code…they were under “layered cake mixes”.  Who knew?  Not this guy.  Its cake mix…call it cake mix.  I suppose it’s labeled under “layered cake mix” for a valid reason….but for a guy who just enjoys eating cake as much as the next guy….its under layered cake mix and now I know for the next time that I’ll need that information in approximately fifteen years.

Getting back to the whole “computer search” thing is worthless to me rant….I think that I pulled a muscle in my lower back a couplea weeks ago.  I bend over to pick something up and WHAM the pain shoots from just over my waistline on my right side to up and into my rib cage. (actually….its more like its a love-handle strain because that is exactly where the pain resonates).  To compound this issue is the fact that several times a week I unload around 10,000 pounds of groceries off of our loading dock then, along with our trusty stocking crew, break down those loads and stock them to the shelves in our store (I know….it sounds very glamorous and like a wonderful workout but doing it for 25 years grinds you down a little).  As with each case that I bend over to pick up, open and then stock onto the shelves the aforementioned “love-handle strain” pain gets me with every case of product.  From the case of Friskies salmon flavored cat treats to the 40 pound bags of cow manure that we sell in our Garden Center…its there…taking my breath away each and every time.  It’s a reliable reminder that I did something wrong and now my body is reminding me that its still hurt….and will remain hurt until something changes.  I innocently searched the WebMD site today and entered my symptoms, hoping for a little insight as to what I could do at home prior to a doctors visit.  It looks rather bleak for me after I entered everything in and clicked on the part of me that’s hurting.  Apparently this is what I could have (this is where I don’t understand computer searches…again):

  • cat scratch disease (is this similar to what rocker Ted Nugent is belly-achin’ about?)
  • bird flu (I don’t have this….really…I don’t)
  • syphilis…..(100% nope)
  • toxic shock syndrome (good grief…really?)
  • ricin poisoning (HHHMMM…..poisoning via castor beans aye…?  I do like a good baked bean casserole…)
  • coxsackie virus infection (its REAL and doesn’t involve the areas that you’d think that it does….and I don’t have those issues)
  • lupis….(nah)
  • sarcoidosis (I like the name…it sounds serious…all Latin sounding and such….but I don’t have it)

Thank God I don’t have any of the above….yet….but I’m still without a good answer to my issue….my “love-handlitis” per say.  Perhaps its just me getting old-er.  The last time that I went to my doctor with a similar pain he replied “hire someone younger to do that heavy lifting for you…” which is easy for him to say…he’s a doctor….I’m just a schmuck with love-handlitis.  Just like Fred Sanford….the pain comes on real and gets my attention….though Fred does it a lot better than I.

Peace and God bless you this week.