Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 77 - Smooth as Butter

My mother's father, my maternal grandfather used to yell at grandma when she set the table for dinner.  "June, who in the hell put this oleo in here?"  I had never heard of that word but by the tone in his voice, oleo appeared to be a very very bad thing.  Grandma rushed around moving this and that out of the refrigerator and later I asked  her, "What was that all about?  What is oleo?"  She said, "Oleo is margarine.  Your grandfather doesn't think margarine tastes as good as butter.  I try to switch it out every once in a while as butter isn't good for his cholesterol. Sometimes I get away with it and sometimes I don't."  She walked  away to finish the dinner as she snickered.

I didn't know the difference.  It's interesting when you grow up with only one thing and you travel to friend's house and find out that there is a choice you didn't know existed.  Like the time I found out about bagels.  When I first saw them I didn't know what they were.  We always had english muffins or just plain old bread. I felt the same way when Grandpa would eat his "brown bread." Grandpa loved pumpernickel bread.  I wrinkled my face as he put his butter on a toasted slice of that dark brown bread. I asked Mom what did we have when I got home and she said margarine.  I didn't see the big deal but as I've gotten older I realize butter is really really good.  It makes everything taste better.  Isn't it nice to have something or eat something that you know has the "real" stuff in it?  I guess that is why the phrase "like mom/grandma used to make" differentiates the degree of goodness.

It's the same with games.  There are just some games that have the "real" stuff in it.  The players play hard, the coaches coach with heart and the fans cheer optimistically for their team. These are the smooth as butta games!  I remember one game that I officiated at the Daytona Ocean Center over the Christmas Holidays.  During the winter, NAIA northern colleges bring their teams to bask in Florida's sunshine while playing in tournaments.  The game I was assigned had two teams that used the five man in and five man substitution system.  Or in this case the five women substitution.  Both teams were ranked nationally as the highest scoring teams in the NAIA division.  They didn't foul much as they were so busy running and gunning three-pointers and substituting fresh legs that the score ended with 208 total points in normal regulation!  This was a new record high points for me as an official.  Hardly any fouls and fun to watch too. We ran our butts off but it was one of the most enjoyable games I ever had.  103 to 105 was the final score.  I hated to see either team lose.

I was so excited to get this game I called my assignor on the way home. I said excitedly, "Tony, we just finished our game at the Ocean Center and it was great! I wanted to call and thank you for that game!" He replied, "What went wrong?" I said, "Nothing. I was just calling to let you know how great a game it was. The final score was 105 to 103 and they hardly fouled the entire game!"  I was almost out of breath from excitement as I had called as soon as I got in the car to drive home.  He said, "BJ, Don't call me for that shit!" and hung up on me.  [I am going to set the scene with a couple more stories about Tony in the upcoming days.  This one is to present the frame of the entire picture.] Great way to deflate my balloon I thought.  Tony was not known for his smooth tact and you can see why in this one sentence how his words cut like a knife.  Unprofessional, like oleo as Grandpa would say, not very smooth.

I hate to admit it but I was used to male officials being just plain mean to me.  As a female in officiating, this happens a lot in high school officiating.  Most of the officials are older men who have had one year experience thirty times and think they are the better for it.  I agree with one of my college assignors who said the problem with high school officiating is that nobody gets fired.  If the older officials who claimed to have "thirty years experience" remembered how it was when they started out, they would show much more empathy toward their younger partners.  One time after doing a forty minute pre-game for a middle school game with a fellow high school referee, we promptly went out onto the court.  Since the first game was the girls game, he asked if I wanted to toss the ball.  I always was ready for any opportunity as my motto has been luck isn't luck, it's when preparation meets opportunity.  I jumped at the chance.

I tossed the ball and promptly went to my position at Trail.  As the offensive player dribbled to the corner of the side line and half court line right in front of me being closely guarded by a defensive player, I started a five second count. When I got to five, I heard my partner blow his whistle from his position UNDER THE BASKET and signal five seconds!  YGBSM! (You Gotta Be Shitting Me!) This was going to be a rough game not to mention that I had been assigned two games with this guy.  After a forty minute  pregame of the usual "Trust your partner, Call your primary [area] and Call the obvious," he had defied his entire pregame with the very first call!  It was my primary, I had the five second count and he hadn't trusted me! He should have been watching his own area and let me make my call in MY primary area!  I tried to shake it off as the first-call-jitters, but the entire night was like this. I thought why am I even out here?  In the last quarter of the last game, I literally took my whistle off and ran up and down the court with it in my pocket. I couldn't figure out why John did this?  Did he not believe in what he preached?  Was it because I was new and in his mind inexperienced? [I had just returned from a summer filled calling Girls AAU Basketball as an AAU National Official. The Girls game uses a shot clock.  He had never officiated with a shot clock in all his  "thirty years experience."] Was it because I was a female official?  Either way it was unprofessional. 

When we finished two very rough games and we came into the locker room, I asked him what he saw on the very first call of the first game?  He said he had a five second count.  I asked him,  "Did you realize that was my area and I had the count going already from off the tip? Who was watching the players in the post all night when the ball was up top?"  He looked shocked that I would know he had broken two of the three standards of officiating with his very first call.  He started arguing with me that he was the head referee and I had no right to question him because I was younger. The right thing for me to do at this point was to stick up for myself. I wasn't the weak female as he thought I was. I cut him off in a middle of a sentence and told him, "I can't believe that you can honestly tell me that you believe any of  your pregame. Were you just bullshitting me in your pregame?  I looked forward to these games because people always told me you do the best pregame of anyone. And I agree with them.  You pull out your little board and say all the right things with the right tools. It's too bad you don't believe in and use any of what you say in your game."  I picked up my bag and walked out.  He never would even look at me again after that when I saw him at meetings.  I would say hello to him just to be cordial and he wouldn't even acknowledge my presence by responding.  Silence existed between us that could be cut like a knife. I was just glad that this knife was cutting the silence. The knife would be of no use anywhere else because all the butter had already melted. I longed to officiate more smooth-as-butta-games like "grandma used to make."

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