What would it be like to be a referee? by Don W

Posted by Donald Wilkerson on Nov 26 2003 at 04:00PM PST
(by Don Wilkerson)
What would it be like to show up for work every day and have dozens, even hundreds of people in your workplace judging everything you do? That is the job of the school basketball official. It is one of the worst jobs anyone can imagine. These folks do it for the love of the game and for the positive influence they can have on young people while trying to help teach them respect for authority. Very few do it solely for the money.

The problem is there are not enough people who are willing to subject themselves to this torture and ridicule. The Golden Rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you does not seem to apply to basketball officials!

A severe shortage of officials exists. Gee,I wonder why? Why would anyone want that job? In addition, the change to three officials in varsity games only exacerbated the problem. The intent, I believe, was to improve the quality of the officiating by sometimes blending junior officials with senior officials plus having an extra pair of eyes on the court. In addition, it was thought that hurrying the process along by getting less experienced officials to the varsity level would help attract people to become officials. Sometimes this works. The quality of officiating seems to vary from area to area as well. My guess is in the more densely populated areas like Houston, there are proportionately more weak refs due to the greater demand but limited supply. It sure seems so.

Basketball officials are very dedicated. They spend many, many hours in training preparing for a thankless job. Although they do go through extensive training, most of it is on the job training where we get to vocally "grade their paper". I will be the first to admit that I am sometimes harsh toward the officials when they make a stinky call not in my team's favor. We as fans are reminded of the injustice in our lives. We feel our kids are working too hard to be robbed, and in the true spirit of competition, we want to WIN. Nevermind the example we are setting for our young people. Sometimes parents (and zealous fans such as me) in the crowd find it difficult to control their emotions when the ref makes a lousy or not-so-lousy call. Then there are the folks in the crowd who, rather than go to a shrink, pay a few dollars to enter the gym and take out their agression and frustrations on the officials. Too many of us tend to fall into one of these categories sometimes. (These comments are intended to address fans in general, not just Clear Lake fans).

I offer no solution to this dilemma. I only want to point out that the officials are usually doing the best they can. They are not overpaid. There are good ones and there are bad ones just like in every other endeavor. They are rarely partial toward one team despite how it may seem.

Clear Lake fans are not known as the worst fans who ever come into the gym but we are sometimes way up there in the rankings when it comes to the more obnoxious crowds. Perhaps we should remind ourselves that the collective persona or image that we project as Clear Lake fans reflects on our community, our school and our children. Although we haven't had any instances this year of embarassing crowd behavior, the opportunity will surely present itself before the season is over. Now could be the time when we insure that our behavior as a collective body of fans is exemplary.


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