Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Day 216 - Showtime and the Jackets We Wear

After our own thirty minute pregame and putting on our uniform, the crew of three will put on their last item in women's basketball right before heading out to the court to start the pregame of the actual game with fifteen minutes on the clock countdown. That last item is our CCA jacket.  The funny thing for officials of womens basketball is that this is what we call our three minute jacket.  We put it on, go on the court, stand in our positions on the court across and facing the scorers table.  The referee will go over to the table at twelve minutes, check the book, sign the book, check the ball to see if it has enough air and that is a certified NCAA ball and the two umpires (umpire 1 and umpire 2) will respectively meet with the shot clock operator and the clock operator and explain the correct way to run the clock.  Believe it or not, there are many clock crews that don't reset the clock correctly.  They just press reset when the ball is inbound and has left the thrower's hand.  The correct procedure is to wait until the ball has touched a player from the offense and it is "controlled" by the offensive player.  This simple procedure can cheat a team out of two or three seconds of their total thirty.  That is up to 10% of their time.  We want to make sure that fairness is given to each team equally.

Once we have had our meeting, we go back to the locker room and remove our jackets.  We finish stretching, talk about players we have noticed are left handed or always walk in warm ups and to look for that when we start the game.  I used my jacket for two years and never took the tags off of it.  It was a brand new jacket as it had only been worn probably a total of four hours.  I sold it for the same price I bought it.

As we return to the court, we wish each other a good game and say, "It's showtime.  Don't f@ck it up." It is no different than a production of a play or a musical or circus.  We have our duties, our positions to be in and our roles to fill.  We have to be perfect.  At least that is what the coaches believe.  It doesn't matter that a coach uses a zone defense to continue to defend a team of three-point shooters that can shoot the lights out.  It doesn't matter that a coach continues a full-court press when the fouls are 7-1 in the  favor of the other team. It doesn't matter that their player who is riding the bench is the best player on the team and magic happens when they are on the court.  The point is there is a clear double standard.

There are more often than not times when coaches make a mockery of the game than officials.  Particularly on the college level.  Just imagine if a referee got mad and threw a towel or a chair or screamed at a coach. Just imagine if a referee didn't tuck in his or her shirt.  Just imagine if a referee raised their hands in the universal FU signal everytime we heard a coach make a statement of bullshit.  The FU signal is when one raises their hands in the air with palms out and then drops their arms to say the other person doesn't know what they are talking about.

The truth is, like a theatrical production, a game usually goes on without a hitch.  We as referees are responsible for ten players on the court at all times, for up to sixteen or more players on the bench, two head coaches, more assistant coaches, team managers, a scorekeeper, two clock operators, the press, and thousands of fans.  Then the non-human items we are responsible for are the safety of the equipment, the ball, the court, the time on the clock and its accuracy, and security.  At any given moment chaos can break out and the key is to be a fire preventor not fire fighter.  If we inspect most items and people prior to the game, the chance of a fire breaking out is minimal.

I have many friends who have had fights in their game.  It would be unrealistic to think that officiating over two thousand games, you will not have a fight.  But that chance is very small when an official does the right thing and takes care of the right things before they happen.  Many times coaches will not see at the opposite end of the court that their player has just jabbed another post player in the ribs or in the back.  There is no talking then, just blow the whistle.  But after an amount of time and experience, the coaches will begin to trust a good official.  I only had one fight and I learned from it.  It happened right in front of my partner in a two person YBOA National game.  I never saw it.  I felt in my gut something was wrong and I didn't know but I felt it.

To this day, I put in my pregame, if you just have this gut feeling that something is off or wrong, stop the game, get together as a crew and lets straighten it out before it is too late.  If this happens more than once in a game than the person with the "gut feeling" probably is in a game that is too fast for them.  But if it happens once in a great while to an experienced referee, chances are, there is something wrong.  The right thing to do when you have this feeling, is to ask, and then fix it.

The difference between a play, a musical or another theatrical production and a game is that people can get hurt if we don't act on that gut feeling.  It is our job to prevent injuries to our players.  It still bothers me when fans yell, call that ref.  Then when you do call it, they say let them play. Then when you let them play, they yell, call something before a player gets hurt.  You can't have it both ways as a fan.  We know what we're doing but there are times I wish we could use that CCA jacket on the fans and it had long belts on each sleeve that tied in the back so this would restrain the lunatics among us.

The invention of basketball was not an accident. It was developed to meet a need. Those boys simply would not play "Drop the Handkerchief." ~James Naismith (the inventor of basketball)

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