My crew chief that day became one of my good partners to which I trusted. We were a pair. We traveled to games and took other officials with us to train them. Many of them went on to be Division 1 officials. They would tell us what people would say about us. Most people looked at us and scratched their heads on how we had become good friends. We looked nothing alike. A pair remember is defined as having a similar association. The friendship was built on the foundation that night that integrity was more important than the reputation of "going along to get along." We both eventually left this association. My mentor went on to bad mouth both of us for not fearing coaches titles off the court. How we gave "too" many technicals.
As I continue to tell the stories, it will become clear that we both continued to do the right thing and it eventually cost us both our careers. We are an honest pair and didn't buckle under the pressure of the leaders of the associations to which we belonged to show partiality toward any coach or team. We are tough and fair. Isn't that what coaches really want anyway? Consistent fairness. We don't care if you are POTUS, our child's doctor, or our own kids when we walk out on the court with a whistle. (I have given my own son a technical foul when he threw the ball down in disgust.) I'd rather be associated with someone with whom I can eat soup than someone who is not a good partner that will buy me a steak. We may not look like each other on the outside just as the northern parula and the black and white warbler pair appear to be different. But we traveled together like this pair of birds. When we put on our stripes, we have the same philosophy and we hold similar values on the inside. Integrity, Honesty, and Justice. This is why we have remained friends to this day.
During that tournament it wasn't the coaches, players, fans or administrators that were our opponents. Unfortunately it was a battle between the lines within the crew. These are the hardest games to officiate. You begin to second guess every non-call or every call because of the fear that your call might be overturned by your partner unjustly and unethically. I resigned from that association because I had lost faith in my mentor. It had gotten back to me that the same leaders who were mentoring me went on to tell officials from the association I was planning to join the upcoming year, "We're sending a good one back to you." No I didn't need to be sent anywhere, I wasn't there anymore to be sent.
So it is with pride I stand by the one partner who had my back. We bucked the establishment and wouldn't carry out an illegal order. My partner learned he was not required to carry out any order that was illegal while in the Air Force. As an USAF, Major Retired, he never gave an illegal order for this same reason. It simply was not the right thing to do. If this is the kind of character a man has, then the only people who oppose him either don't know him or are the ones who weren't righteous in the first place. This is a very hard lesson to learn as we really want to believe in the leadership of the people who mentor us. The right thing to do is realize there is corruption everywhere there is money to be made. It's the honest old ladies handing out the chicken who implement the rules under the most extreme pressure of interrogation and intimidation. And it was the honest old lady from Mayfield, Kentucky with the chicken who actually had a "pair."