Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Monday, May 9, 2011

Day 116 - Camp is Camp

We have a saying when you gather referees together to go to camp, that anything that can go wrong will go wrong.  We say "camp is camp" to help us logically understand the illogical.  We officiate as I've explained in previous blogs at these camps to be seen.  The assignors from multiple Division 1 conferences use the camps to scout the only difference between officiating camps and player camps is that we pay for the "opportunity" a small sum of $500 and many times more when you add in the incidentals per camp.  As luck would have it camp provides us the opportunity to practice the "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" philosophy as well.  It is not unusual to go from one court where a clinician (a veteran referee who is already part of a conference) tell you to stand in this area of the court while in Trail.  Then the very next game a different clinician will tell you the complete opposite which just happens to be where you used to stand until the LAST clinician told you not to stand there anymore.  See what we mean? Camp is Camp.

We have meetings at the beginning of everyday before camp and at the end of every day of camp.  This is where I usually bring these discrepancies to the person running the camp.  This allows us all to "get on the same page."  This is a common problem in officiating.  Since there are so many different philosophies and different egos by officials who think they know the rules better than the people who taught us, often times we are put together with two other referees that once the jump ball is thrown, its clear we are not all on the same page.  When I do a pregame, I'm clear, this is what we are going to do in MY game.  If everyone does what I have pregamed, I tell them, I will take the heat if any problems arise from what I've pregamed.  I never had a problem as a result as I was able to back up my reasoning with the rule book.

Assignors have told us there are three principles to follow when officiating a game if they want us to support them to complaining coaches: 1) Make sure you are right, and that your call can be substantiated with the rule book. 2) Make sure it shows up on the video.  (We are always being videoed by somebody somewhere and as I've mentioned before, the tape doesn't lie.) and 3) Make sure your call fits the game.  This last one is the gray that gets a lot of younger officials trouble.  For example, if the entire game, the three-second rule hasn't been called and its been marginally extended to a four second allowance for the first 59 minutes of the game, we would not be supported by our Supervisors if we called three-seconds in the last minute of the game and it cost a team a basket to which they lost.  Yes by rule it was right and yes it would show up on tape, but the inconsistency of the coaches thinking this was a non-issue for fifty-nine minutes and then to be penalized in the last minute is not fair.  The Assignor cannot support us.

Because I knew the rules very well, a lot of "camp is camp" shit happened to me while doing games for middle and high school.  In this group, the officials average 80/100 on the tests and the coaches average 60/100.  I averaged 97/100. So coaches were not used to an official knowing more than they do.  One play in which a young man courageously hustled to save a ball going out of bounds, leaped in the air like a gazelle with such speed he grabbed the ball and tossed it backwards over his shoulder with a high arc to which his teammate caught it and threw it up for two points as I blew the whistle.  Violation.  The ball happened to go over the top of the backboard from out of bounds to in bounds which by rule states if a ball goes over the backboard in any direction, it is considered out of bounds.  I had a hard time explaining that to the coach as it doesn't make sense that if a ball is coming from out of bounds via the air how is it considered out of bounds if it never touched the floor or anything/anybody out of bounds first?  He didn't want to have to tell his player that the great play he had just made wasn't legal.  Shit happens.

In fact this rule was made by coaches after the NCAA tournament game in which the winning basket was scored by a play that was designed to impede the defense.  Team B was behind by one point, after a time out they set up an inbound throw-in from under the basket with one second left in the game.  They threw the ball up over the backboard and team B's teammate caught the ball in the air and dunked it into the hoop.  They won!  At the end of the year, the coaches got together and agreed this was a non-defendable play and changed the rules.  Now if the ball goes over the top of the backboard in EITHER direction, it is considered out of bounds.  These are those times where you just know the rule and trying to explain it to a coach of a kid who just made one of the most heart felt plays of his life sounds like you're making it up.  Camp is camp.

The referee friends that I had and I would call each other on the way home and do "post game" with each other.  During the first three years or so I had many many stories to tell similar to this one.  My one friend would say, "BJ.  If shit can happen, it happens to you."  I agreed with him 100% and I finally figured out that shit actually happens to every referee in every game.  Its just that I noticed all the shit and I know the rules.  I would say that 95% of the people who referee don't know these "bizarre" rules because they haven't read all five books cover to cover.  The right thing to do is if you are in charge of something, to be the most knowledgeable about whatever it is you are in charge of.  Eventually coaches began to trust me and know that I could back up what I had said.  I can't tell you how many rule books I gave away to AAU and middle school coaches to educate them.

During my last three years officiating, when we would call each other we would often ask how each others games went and our standard answer became "WI."  Without Incident.  These were the games we had worked so hard to be able to have.  WI were normal, no shit good games.  It got to be so standard that we dreaded going back to camp.  As we knew that we could have 100 WI games and the first game in front of a supervisor that we wanted to get hired by, some fifteen year old would do some move or play we had never seen before and we'd be shocked by seeing this particular play for the first time.

Patty Broderick
The last time I was on a court and knew I was being looked at by Patty Broderick at her camp a girl got hit in the head and the ball went in on a lay up.  I called a foul as I feel like a hit in the head is a foul. The supervisor I had always wanted to be hired by came over and asked me what I had saw.  I told her and she replied, "BJ, unless that girl's pony tail is on the side of her head after she gets hit in the head and the bucket is scored, let the play start, develop and finish.  No need for a whistle on a play like that."  She put her hand in a fist and held it up to the back of her head and slowly moved it to above her ear to make a point.  We busted out laughing so hard just by the visual, we got the message. Ok, so now I had to wait another entire year and another $3000 to see another play in which a girls pony tail which is traditionally tied at the back of a girls head would move to the side like a pig tail and it better show up on the video tape too. Camp is camp.

Click here to see the list of camps.  Camp is the big business behind the officiating business.  This list shows 280 camps alone.  Each camp can net any supervisor between $20k and $65k per camp. 

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