Sunday, August 13, 2006

Game Log: The End of Camp

Two games today. One not so good, and one (the seventh-place game) good.

The first was exceedingly difficult. The first half was pretty smooth. Then, in the second half, there was a strange series of events. A whole batch of calls went against Green, and almost all of them were called by my less-experienced partner. More-experienced partner and I were almost locked out of the first half. I recall only one foul call. My evaluator--a good one I trust--said that my posture went to hell because I was hell-bent on getting a call. This is evidence that I lean in to concentrate, and that's doable. I was expecting to be lambasted in the evaluation, but instead, I got some good advice on how to reel in a partner who's calling a million billion fouls and might not realize it.

Then, a game I was looking forward to...a good one to end camp on. Two good teams...conference rivals...the kind of game I strive to do someday. Two experienced partners. A good pregame. And the first half was marvelous. Smooth as anything, we all felt. Six team fouls per side. There were a few imperfections: we missed two switches, and I had a kid go to the floor in my area while my eyes were following a pass (to the other side of my area). Didn't hear boo from either coach, one of whom is noted for barking a lot. Didn't hear boo from the crowd. Then the same evaluator--the one I trust--came out to talk to us. Here's what he said, as best as I remember it:

"I'm going to take off my evaluator hat and give this to you in street slang. This game is shit. You guys are fucking up this game. You've got these good athletes, and the game is going to shit. You've fucked up two switches. You've got players going to the floor and you don't have calls. 22 Blue is grabbing a fistful of jersey and you're not even seeing it. You're concentrating so hard on your rotations that you're forgetting to watch the game. Here's what we're gonna do: No switching unless the ball goes to the wing. Call the damn game. You're better than this. I know you can officiate, but you're fucking this game up."

I endured all of that with quite a hell of a lot of surprise. In fact, for the first three sentences of the evaluator's tirade, I honestly thought he was joking. The game was imperfect, as all games are but smooth and clean. We were barely noticeable, nor did we need to be. So I was, needless to say, quite confused. I said nothing, then chatted with my partners. We made a commitment to communicate better (although I thought crew communication, like everything else, was actually pretty good).

The evaluator made the game sound like a horrific melee' WWE meets Lord of the Flies meets the Bataan Death March. It was completely alien to the game I was experiencing. Fair enough...maybe the guy had a different view from mine. So I belted down a bit (perhaps a little more than my partners did). Within a minute, I got 22 Blue on a foul I'd normally have taken a pass on--figured I needed to send her a message, since she apparently was being sneaky. I called another couple in order to get back in control of a game that I never though we'd lost control of. My nascent efforts to rotate were stunted...three times I started to rotate, then figured I'd face more verbal abuse as a result, so I stayed put, which was frustrating. But the game stayed good. Nothing whatsoever from either coach. White pulled ahead late and won by ten.

After the game, I go for more abuse, and it's not coming. Instead, he gives a long talk about how we need to let the players play more, the athletes don't want so many whistles (I think the 2nd half foul count was 9-6 or 9-7 or so...not terrible), they can play through a little contact, and the like. I was a bit frustrated because we had made it through the first half without reaching the bonus, and the extra foul calls in the second least for me...were preventative officiating because the evaluator told us the game was going in the crapper.

I think I'll just shake this one off. I like the evaluator too much to assume this is the norm. I'll assume my several past interactions (all positive) are the norm. I'm all for criticism, but verbal abuse I'm less fond of, and not just when it confuses me. Anyway. It is what it is, and it's over.

The good news is he told me my posture was better in the second game. And in spite of the haranguing, I know in my heart it was a great game, as do the players, coaches, and even fans, I'd say. So I'll take that with me.

I'm glad I went to camp. I think I'm a better official now.

THINGS I DID WELL: Handled a good game with two good teams solidly, posture good in game two, call selection good under weird circumstances in game two

THINGS TO WORK ON: To be honest, I have no idea from game two. I'm way confused by conflicting advice. Still, I learned a bunch from game one. I need to get better at handling less-experienced officials who are dominating a game...get better at communciation and calmness under those circumstances, and to stand up straight even when the stress level rises.

NEXT UP: I may do a few games in October in preparation for the season in November.


At 3:05 PM, Blogger Joe said...

Sounds to me like the evaluator was trying something himself - the old "drive the best ones hardest" trick. I think he was super-picky because you guys are super-talented.

Sounds to me like it didn't work. Which is usually my experience with that management style too.

At 3:50 PM, Blogger Blogging Ref said...

That thought occurred to me and at least one of my partners as well, Joe...that he wanted to push us harder because we were sailing along, it was the last game, and he didn't want us to let up in the second half. And I agree with you...that teaching style is probably in the bottom 5% of teaching styles as far as effectiveness. That surprsied me because his evaluation of me this past February was the best post-game evaluation I've ever had.

Maybe the guy has an evil twin?


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