Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day 103 - From Scratch

How is that we have to buy cake mixes in a box to make a cake when the women that came before us managed to do it with just flour, baking soda or powder, eggs, butter and a few spices?  Some cakes taste better from scratch like pineapple pound cake but others are better from the box like angel food cake.  I guess the magic is in the water.  With water everything seems to become rehydrated and regains its natural state.  Water is the validation, the glue that makes it stick.

We have a term in officiating called scratch.  Scratch is when a school, coach or Athletic Director decides they don't want a particular official to officiate their contests anymore.  In most associations this isn't allowed, or in states like Indiana it's actually the coaches who assign their own contests.  I would say this is a huge conflict of interest and thus the saying by a coach when he travels to another school and feels he/she isn't getting any calls for the night is getting "homered."  In our high school association, coaches were allowed three scratches.  If they chose a fourth scratch, they had to decide which one of the first three wasn't so bad after all.  Each the year the scratches carried over until they changed it.  So in essence, if you were scratched from a school, unless a new coach came, or there was another official worse than you, you were banned for life.

I personally had a problem with this system because like the cake mix in a box, there was no "water" to make it stick, no validation.  I proposed at our local meeting that we write into the next year's contract that scratches must be submitted with 1) a new form in which information is provided to substantiate the scratch and 2) a video tape was supplied.  We then could select a committee of three people to review tapes as needed.  If the Review Committee felt that the coach was valid in his/her argument, then they could be allowed to scratch the official.  The suggestion was voted upon and it remains just as it started an idea still in my head.  You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. This would have protected all the other 159 officials just as it does myself and they seem to be happy allowing coaches to simply scratch an official because they don't like the official or how he/she officiates.  We are the necessary evil so a Coach is NEVER going to like us unless one of two things happen: 1) We are there for at least ten years to build a solid reputation or 2) He/She always wins at home.

I take pride in knowing that I didn't care who won or what venue we were at.  I probably was the most scratched official out of 160 officials.  I was scratched by six coaches. I didn't know this until I was asked to be on the Assignment Committee.  This is the committee that previews the assignments made by the Assignor prior to the assignments being sent out.  We had to cross check the scratches and the assignments, make sure that there were no double bookings and that all the assignments were covered.  This was a great double check for the Assignor which had a hell of a job to do.  I didn't feel too sorry for him however as were paying him $6000 for three and a half months of work.  Not bad.  It was more than we would make in ten years. 

I have a friend who also officiates college and belongs to another high school association.  He tells me he is the most scratched official as well.  He says the coaches scratch him and then request him at the post season playoffs.  One time he asked a coach, "Why do you do that?"  The coach replied, "We know you're fair and we want you to do our away games."  I also once heard a college coach speak at a local high school associations.  She said, "I really don't care who referees my game. You all come and go.  Your calls can cost me my job.  I just want to win so I can keep my job."  So where is the validation in that?  Coaches just want to win, it is the goal within the goal. Period at any cost. WIN. If you recruit, get the kids you want and are  coaching well enough to win, why do the referees have to be your final gatekeeper for a reality check?  I say it all the time, officials do not lose a game for a team.  Only if a team has made 100% of their free throws, field goals and had no fouls what so ever in the entire game, could this be true.  The coaches job is to put his/her team in such a position that an officials calls don't "appear" to have cost him/her a game.  They certainly don't complain if you blew a call that went in their favor!  Never!

In college, the scenario is similar.  Coaches actually vote on new rules each season.  They have always made the rules.  We just implement them.  If they don't like you they scratch you with a simple phone call.  But at least they fill out the post game form that is required for every game to give feedback to the assignor.  They always have a tape ready too.  We have a saying, "The tape doesn't lie."  So in college you ALWAYS wanted to make sure that if you tossed a coach, it was clear on tape what he/she had done to warrant this.  Most coaches get a little out of hand for one technical but aren't stupid enough to get a second.  I like the NCAA rule also that allows a coach to stand after one technical.  They don't have to sit there the rest of the game with an imaginary seat belt that fuels their hate for you.  Its just another call.

Good coaches realize this.  A warranted technical is because a coach mocks the call of an official, accuses an official of cheating or showing partiality, yells at an official, conducts egregious behavior such as throwing a chair or clip board or kicking a chair, and/or says something unsportsmanlike.  If a coach wants to scratch an official because he has to pay the piper or be accountable for his/her actions, then the right thing to do is look into the mirror and to blame nobody other than his/herself.  They may build their teams from scratch and bake their success or failure but they can't have their cake and eat it too.  Each of us have our "roles" to fill. Pass the butter please.

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