Saturday, December 29, 2007

Attention Larry K

Larry, from the Portland area, who came over here from Jack Bog's link at about 8:15 Thursday morning:

You have won the comment contest. Please contact me, either in the comments or at my handle of bloggingref, to let me know to which charity you would like me to donate a hundred dollars.

If I don't hear from you in the next 24 hours, we will go to the first runner-up, just like the Miss America pageant. finished second. You're on call.

By popular demand

Massref has asked my opinion on the Jim Quirk punishment.

I'm fine with it. In isolation, the game-check fine felt a little bit high. It didn't look like Quirk intended to wrap Nick Barnett around the looked to me like he was just jumping into the pile and grabbing whatever he could to stop an escalating fight.

But this didn't occur in isolation...he apparently horse-collared the Falcons' Jason Snelling the previous week. Two neck grabs in two weeks demands attention, I think, and while I might have gone less, I can live with the game-check fine.

Of course, this leads me to wonder if officials will be gun-shy about jumping into fights in the future. I know I always pre-game what we'll do in fights. I'll jump between players before there's physical contact, but once they're going at it, I'll beckon the coaches onto the court. I've seen people say this is the right move...if I make contact and hurt a player, Quirk-style, or accidentally touch a player somewhere I shouldn't, I'm ripe for a lawsuit. I've also heard people say it's the wrong move...if a player gets hurt before their coaches can get into the pile, I'd be liable for not trying to stop it myself. Plus, what do we have if we let people fight and just watch? Minor league hockey, that's what.

If it were a one-time incident, I'd think the fine was excessive, but twice is a trend. I'm OK with the NFL's actions.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Thanks, y'all...

I appreciate all of you who visited, and especially the 16 of you who commented. We did get 100 unique visits yesterday...I guess people were too shy to comment. In any event, I will round up to a $100 donation to the Special Olympics.

As for the comments...well, only one made me laugh out loud. Larry K's "compliment" that "no ref never killed anyone in my family" (that you KNOW of, Larry...) was pretty damn funny. Larry, if you're out there, go ahead and post in the comments what 501(c)3 charity you'd like me to give a hundred bucks to, and I'll do it. Or, if you'd rather email it to bloggingref at the domain of gmail dot com, I can go that way too.

Next year, I think I'll go the reverse. We'll set this up like a dunk tank...and I'll invite abuse. Heckle-a-ref-for-charity day.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Say Something Nice About A Ref For Charity Day

Welcome to the first ever Say Something Nice About a Ref for Charity Day (a.k.a. Buck-A-Comment Day). For every comment made up to 250 (save the abusive ones), I will donate a dollar to the Special Olympics in my home state. In addition to that, whichever comment is determined to be the best comment of the day will get to select where a matching batch of cash (up to $250) goes, provided it is a 501(c)3 charity.

What should you say?

Well, anything, pretty much. Talk about officials in general (i.e. “Gee, it’s a hard job”). Talk about a specific official (i.e. “Gosh, Ed Hochuli sure has nice guns.”) Talk about a cool call that you like (i.e. “Wow, the replay showed he was in-bounds.”) Hell, I’ll even take a left-handed compliment (i.e. “Huh! You don’t suck so bad.”) Just stop for a second and say something that isn’t utterly abusive. My standards are quite low.

I’ll be keeping an eye out all day to make sure comments come from unique visitors. Then, at midnight Pacific, I’ll either pick the best comment of the day or pick a few to put to a reader vote on Friday. Once there’s a winner, I’ll be in touch to sort out sending the money out.

Part of this is an imitation of a blogger I like, part of it a desire to get some money to a good charity, and part of it a desire to be the center of attention. But this is also an experiment to see if this blog (which has, as best as I can tell, 4 regular readers) can, through word of mouth and a few links, get 250 people to visit in one day and somehow comment. So if you want to help, put a link up on your blog and I’ll recognize you in some happy, positive way.

While you’re here, feel free to poke around through the archives…this, this, and this are some of my favorites. If you want a sense of what a typical high school ref goes through every season (unless I'm atypical), open any November, December, January, or February game log from the past couple of years. That's where I talk about what I'm up to on a game-by-game basis (although, due to life circumstances, I've only had two games so far this year...but lots to come in January).

Thanks for dropping by. I look forward to seeing what y’all have to say. Play nice.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Game Log 12/21/2007: The much-delayed season opener

Two JV games tonight at a JV Tournament...girls followed by boys (my first-ever HS boys' game). I thought it would be two boys' games. In a way, I was glad to do girls first--it meant I could ease into the boys. But I've let myself fall a bit out of shape, so as the girls' game ended and I was tired, I became a bit concerned.

I had nothing to be concerned about. Much to my delight, the boys' game tonight was way easier than the girls' game. The teams were disciplined and well-coached, and when one team sits back in a zone and there's no shot clock, we've got a smooth game.

First, the girls' game. Not much to report. I think I missed an over-and-back at one point (a quick one...player caught an in-bound and then stepped back), but I can't say there's anything else I'd like back. My partner--a first-year HS official who I think is on his way to good things--apparently missed an egregious call on a free throw that hit only glass. It's awkward when the coach shouts "I want a conference!" I got together with my partner...maybe I shouldn't have...but I just in-bounded the ball right afterwards. It all worked out. There was a fair amount of contact, especially on the ballhandlers on the perimeter, and our calls didn't seem to help out. There were many times when a defender would run up to the ballhandler as the ballhandler extended a forearm to knock her down. We consistently called that player-control. Unpopular, but reasonable.

The boys? No big issues. I missed a call on a ball that went out of bounds on the opposite sideline when I was lead. Why the hell did I blow my whistle? Bad ref...and apparently I blew that call pretty good. If I'd waited a second or gotten help, it would have worked out. There was one situation where a player missed a free throw, then leapt into the back of an opponent while going for the rebound. Easy foul. But the two stayed face to face, and I had to run in and prevent it. I suppose a T could have been in order, but I stand by my decision just to run in and get them walking to the other end. The crowd were rather buttheads, but I maintained confidence.

So, plainly and simply, I learned tonight that I can handle boys basketball, even while tired. That's not a bad place to start.

GOOD: Confidence, call selection, coach management
WORK ON: Refresh memory on 2-man mechanics, stick to my damn lines, get in shape

NEXT: Believe it or not, nothing until January 3. A freshman game...I forget the gender. I think its boys.

Two boys' JV games tonight.

How they do two JV games in one site on one night I don't know, but it looks like that's what I'll be up to. Maybe it's a boys and girls game? Anyhoo. It's a two-person game, which kinda stinks for my first real boys' game. But I'm going into it confident. I'm less worried about it being boys than I am about the 10-month layoff.

You'll hear all about it tonight...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Introducing Say Something Nice About a Ref for Charity Day 2007

Okay, so we go out and referee games. We bust our butts for kids and we have the satisfaction of a job well-done.

But do we want to do more?

Of course we do.

Additionally, we take ridiculous amounts of abuse. Sometimes it's immediate and on the game site--stupid crap from the crowd, players, and coaches. Sometimes its stupid television commercials. Sometimes it's friends who think they understand officiating (they never do). It's a chant at a game we go to. Sometimes it even escalates to violence.

Do we want a little ref-love?

Of course we do.

I now will attempt to accomplish both do something more and to engender at least a little bit of one action.

I introduce to you "Buck-A-Comment Day"...also known as Say Something Nice About a Ref for Charity Day/Comment Contest.

(By the way, I'm working on changing the name.)

The rules (as stolen/adapted from a guy whose blog I frequent):

At 12:01 AM Pacific time Thursday, December 27, I will put up a post inviting everyone to post comments. For each warm-fuzzy comment from a unique visitor up to 250 (I'll keep an eye out through Statcounter), my wife and I will donate a dollar to the Special Olympics in my home state. (I chose it over a coalition for the blind. See? I have a sense of humor.)

Then, I will examine the comments. The best comment (as judged by me, or perhaps by a vote of readers the next day...not sure which) will win an equal donation to the amount of comments (up to $250) to the registered 501(c)3 charity of their choice.

Can we get 250 comments in 24 hours? Will people actually say nice things about refs? Can the 4 or 5 people who read this blog manage to contact enough friends, and, in turn, their friends, to get up to 250 unique visitors commenting? What will people say?

Well, we'll know soon enough. Start telling your friends, and sending your links. We're fishing for compliments for charity.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A couple of commercials

A football referee turns on his microphone and says the following:

"I totally blew that call. In fact, it wasn't even close. But don't worry, I'll penalize the other team for no good reason in the second half to even things up."

Anything that adds to the myth of the makeup call pisses me off. And this ad for Subway (the ref's admission is a "fresh moment") does that.

All fans believe in the makeup call, and anyone who has ever officiated a game knows that it's a complete fiction.

But the Bud Light ad where the defense says "Whoever sacks the quarterback gets a Bud Light," and an official rushes in from his position and blindsides the quarterback? That's a really fun one.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

And another...

Hey! Another ref blog! I've added rookie ref Abie's blog, waytogogenius, to the sidebar.

Monday, December 10, 2007


In the blogroll, that is. (Does anybody use blogrolls anymore?)

Young Ref, frequent contributer to comments here, currently going to school on the East Coast, has joined the family of blogging refs. Since he's the only chance I have to be invited to a fraternity party between now and my death, I'd better be nice to him. (Actually, Young Ref, I'll pass. I don't want to be Egregiously Old Guy.)

Here, as well as on the sidebar, is the blog. Keep it coming, Young Ref. And send me an email with your schedule...I'll be visiting family in The Big City over the holiday break, so maybe I can watch you work.

Also, I have rid myself of three of the old blogs on the blogroll, three of whom are now pushing up the daisies with their stripes and whistles.

Will this season ever begin?

I was slated to open up the season tomorrow with a freshman boys' game. But early on at work today, well, I started feeling sick. I was cold and shivery and, while I could walk, it took some effort.

So damned if I didn't have to call the assignor tonight. I said I had to call in sick for work tomorrow, and I know 24 hours isn't a lot of notice, and that there would likely be a fine...

He said: "Nope. You're letting me know. I'll take care of it."

He's a good man. I take back any snide remarks I said in the previous couple of posts.

So now I open the season on Friday, 12/21, unless there are locusts or tornadoes or other bizarre events keeping me from the court.

I still do want to ref, I swear. But it ain't happening.

Back to my 101.7 fever. Feed, drown, or starve? I'll try all three.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Making a bad impression...

Still waiting around for my first game. I'm listed as unavailable for tonight, but I got a call from my assignor about an hour ago..."Hey, I've got some openings and I need you tonight!" wife and I are going to a Christmas concert. Weighing options...the marriage, or the game?...I said "Sorry, but I'm going to a concert. I am available tomorrow, though."

I get home and find there's an assignment waiting for me...

for Friday.

I'm unavailable Friday due to a coaching commitment (not basketball coaching).

And I'm listed as unavailable for Friday.

Damnit, no means no! My new assignor is either desperate, disrespectful, or inattentive. My money's on the first one, but it could be the other two (I had to give him my phone and email three times, because twice he said he "had never received it").

But I sent him an apologetic email nevertheless. Still, it'll take time for me to work past this negative first impression that is in no way my fault.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Get your damn conspiracy theories straight

Hey, NFL ref-bashers! Which is it?

Are the refs a part of a huge conspiracy to prevent the Pats from going undefeated, as Bill Simmons suggested a few weeks back?

Or are the refs a part of a huge conspiracy to make them go undefeated, as some Ravens are currently suggesting? (And where are you now, Bill?)

Or has the NFL gone from one massive, clandestine, unreported conspiracy to the opposite, clandestine, unreported conspiracy, seamlessly and without anybody ratting anything out for the certain megabucks book deal, all in the course of a month?

(And kudos to ESPN's Mark Schlereth, a breath of fresh air in all of this--putting responsibility on the Ravens' shoulders, pointing out some close calls that went the Ravens' way.)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Here goes...nothing.

Well, damn. There goes all that excitement.

Weather has cancelled school for the visiting team tomorrow. So even though there will be school here in town, it's about 99.9% sure that I won't be reffing tomorrow, since there's simply no way the school will get the bus together to travel 75 miles on an inclement weather day. Welcome to my new semi-rural world.

I've emailed the assignor and told him I'll pack my gear anyway just in case he needs to send me somewhere else at the last minute...

Here goes...

This new association has me a little bit confused. Rather than telling me about rules tests, background checks, etc., I am asking them. That's a little bit confusing and frustrating. I have no idea who my partners are tomorrow, what I'll be wearing, where to get an association jacket, or how, when, where, or from whom to get paid.

But, come hell or high water, I now have a season afoot. I've got games set aside for most of the next month. Tomorrow's are my only varsity games currently scheduled; thereafter I will have a month of mostly boys' games, almost all freshman and JV. While I'll miss my varsity diet, I won't complain. They don't know me from Adam here, so they need to figure out what I can do. Additionally, with no real boys' experience, it can't hurt to have some lower level boys' games to get my eyes and brain to the next level of speed. So I'll get at it and have as much fun as I can.

I'm a little bit more nervous than I have been for past seasons, for two reasons. First, this has the feel of a first date. Will they like me? How should I act? The answer is the same as it was for first dates...just be myself, right?

Second, because real life has intervened so greatly this summer, I have barely thought about basketball since my last game in February. I'm not sure I've run more than a few steps since then. I'm sure I've let myself slide out of shape, even though my weight is about the same as it was last February.

But you go to war with the body you have, not the body you wish you had.

Tonight, I went to a JV and Varsity girls' ballgame to see some players I know, but also to get a sense as to the association here. Much to my surprise, there was a 3-man JV crew! They worked simultaneously with a 2-man C-game crew. I'm like: "Wow! What a great opportunity for the younger officials to learn 3-man mechanics!" Then the same 3 refs came out for the Varsity game. Oh much for my dream. I can't stand doing JV/Varsity double-headers, but it'll be better down here than it used to be in the big city, where I'd often have a 2-man JV game followed by a Varsity game. Less running here.

I will now refresh my memory as to what I told myself I'd work on this year:
1. SLOW THE HELL DOWN. All of the worst errors I made this year have going too fast as a common denominator. Additionally, as I said before, this negatively impacts my mechanics as well. Next year, in weird situations, I will breathe once before making a big decision. Literally, physically, deeply breathe while in the conference. It's a trick I learned as a singer...when you're nervous, breathe. Don't remember to breathe, don't focus on breathing...actually breathe. And when I stick my fist up, I will breathe once before delivering the call at the spot.

2. FIND A DEFENDER. ALWAYS. I got better at looking at the defense this year, but was still surprised by a defender or two. In the last month or so, I improved, mostly because I started to look not only at the ballhandler, but where the ballhandler is going so I could pick up a defender. The thing is though, paradoxically, the more I improved at refereeing the defense, the more I realized what a long way I had to go in refereeing the defense. I suspect this will be a career-long of those tough tasks that I always get better at, but never 100% get well. Still, it's on the list.

3. MORE PARTNER AWARENESS. Slowing down will help this too, but I'd like to bring my partners a little more into my know what they're looking at as well as what I'm looking at. There were bumpy T/C ball tradeoffs this year, and a couple of times I missed a double whistle (some near-miss blarges). I will be a better partner, not just at dead balls, but on live balls too.

4. NO MORE ZONING OUT. Late in games, I find I have gotten tunnel-vision. This is a little related to #3, but I need to find a way to be less zombie-like late in games. Is it fatigue causing this? Whatever it is, I need to beat it.

Okay...fair enough. I'll review this list tomorrow, see if my pants and shoes are still in good repair, throw a shirt of each color in the bag (and no jacket), and head on off for a pair of games tomorrow, including my first boys' varsity game (albeit for schools of about 150 total students each).

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