Sunday, February 24, 2008


For the first time, I am peer ranking.


I don't like the idea that, even as I encourage new folks on the floor, I have to come home and give them a bad score. I didn't mind it back when I was an outside evaluator, and I didn't much mind a well-thought out, constructively critical evaluation from an outside evaluator. But evaluate a guy I'm on the floor with? Sorry, I'm too busy.

Of course, it doesn't help that I didn't know I'd be called upon to do this until the season was mostly I have murky memories of a lot of the partners. Looking back on this blog helped, but I try to avoid talking too much about partners here...this is about my work, not theirs, and in the event my anonymity is ever blown, I don't want to have any "man, this guy sucks" sitting here.

Anyway. I just did it. And, if given an opportunity, I'll lobby to remove it.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

07/08 Season In Review

The season?

Very, very short.

Due to a delayed move, I didn't do my first games until late December. And due to an injury, my last game was in early February. I only worked about a month, and only 21 games:

2 varsity games (both girls).
4 JV games (4 girls, 1 boys).
11 freshman games (4 girls, 7 boys).
2 junior high games (both girls).
2 adult rec games (both men).

On the whole, I can't say the season was a success. There were good moments and bad ones, but I made a few uncharacteristic errors. Maybe I need those early meetings and a few jamborees to get my brain and body into gear. Maybe it was the lack of camp. Maybe it was an adjustment to lower-level games (which are actually harder to officiate). Maybe it was going back to almost exclusively two-man (ick, ick, ick). But I wasn't as good as I know I can be. It's not like I was out there screwing around, and it's not like I had any devastatingly bad games. But where I was happy with my work the last two seasons, I can't say I was this season.

First, however, let's look back at my goals from last year and see how/if I progressed in these areas.


Didn't happen. Not a success. In weird situations, I managed to bungle rules in one of my varsity games. I need to take a damn breath after I blow the damn whistle.


I was proud of this this season. I think doing some faster (boys) games this year made me notice that the faster the fast break, the more likely I am to look for a defender. I would do well to be more aware of defenders in routine situations, but that won't be a major goal.


I was okay with this. I worked a lot of two-man with less-experienced partners, so I wanted to make sure that we weren't both ball-watching. I'd like to translate this to three-man games in the future.


Didn't notice this Think it went okay.

Now goals for next year. There are only three.

The first I mentioned earlier.


My goal: There will always be discernible silence between the whistle and the call. A good way to do that might be to keep the whistle in my mouth. I'll put this in the foreground for camp.

The other two come from an interview with an NBA official that I read in Referee...but I can't find (and I wish I could...I'd love to credit him). He basically said that there's so much bizarreness that happens in games that officials can't control--but there are two things that officials can control. I will focus on these two things in the off-season to make the on-season better.


It's quite possible that my tendinitis comes in part from my miscalculation of more-or-less not working out for the first 37 years of my life. And my suspect running style probably didn't help my posterior tibialis tendon any. So, as soon as I get this damn boot off, I will get a personal trainer. I will actually run a little bit (not a lot...let's get real). I will develop some of those...whattayacallem...muscle groups. I will buy really good ref shoes. I'll put insoles in them to protect my ankles and knees. I will be in physical shape so that I, rather than a doctor, ends my season.


I always thought I was solid on the rules, but I guess I wasn't. I'll hit the books this summer. I'll have it cold...even the damn fashion rules. I want to become The Rules Guy in the association...the guy people go to to ask stuff.

So, strangely, much of my next-year goals are actually summer goals. I'll go to at least one camp (early June) and maybe another (early July, but it's a bit spendy, so I may delay that one a year). Wish me luck.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

More on Topeka

As always, Illegal Screen is on the forefront of ref-related news. ESPN has the story now, including responses from St. Mary's, Michelle Campbell (the ref they wouldn't let ref), and a football-playing girl whose team forfeited rather than honor the St. Mary's request to bench her.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Thumbs up to Topeka HS officials

A female official was turned away from boys' game at a school in Kansas because the religious school believes that women should not be put in a position of authority over men.

I'm impressed with Michelle Campbell's restraint in the article, love that her male partner refused to work the game without her, and even that the guy who had officiated earlier junior high games refused to do the games when he was flagged down as he left the gym. And her association is completely backing her. The refs come off looking really good here.

Philosophical question: If the school has a legitimate religious belief that "women should not be in a position of authority over men," and they asked only to have male officials for boys' games, should the association honor that request? I'm leaning towards no, but am willing to hear arguments on both sides.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Big East commissioner backs ref

Just watched this play for the first time.

Geez, I hate to see a game come down to that call...but it has to. It's not much contact, so it's a call I probably overlook if it doesn't force the guy out of bounds. But it did, and I can't reward a small bump that forces an opponent out.

I'd have called it too, and I'd have lived with the consequences.

In fact, I called it last week.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

My Left Foot

Season's over, folks. Doctor sentenced me to 4-6 weeks of wearing this. I'm guilty of tendinitis of the posterior tibialis tendon. Thank goodness I only had one game left on the schedule.

Let the record show I finished the game with a condition that made it damn near impossible to walk the next day. That lets me hold onto at least a modicum of self-respect here.

Season recap in a few days.

I really do want to do camp this year...time to get in shape.

(Does this boot make my leg look fat?)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Mike Carey

It's awesome that Carey became the first African-American to referee a Super Bowl, and it's great that he and his crew had a more-or-less flawless game. But what impresses me the most is that Carey is FIFTY-EIGHT YEARS OLD. My goodness. Look at this picture. Then consider that Carey, at 58, is ten years OLDER than Roger Goodell, the guy next to him in the picture.

Would you ever guess Carey is 58? Ever? I hope to God I can pull off 58 as well as he does.

Game Log 2/5/2008: Ouch

Two boys' junior high games today with a newbie partner. The newbie partner is notable because it's the first woman I've worked with this year. Back in the big city, somewhere between a quarter and a third of the association was female (in good part because it was a girls' basketball association). In this mixed association of about a hundred, I think there are six women. I miss working with women. The games were haggard...not bad games, but loads of fouls (the two games took over three hours to complete, and that was with 5-minute halftimes). I probably could have taken a pass on one or two, but in the first game, a blowout, I wanted to keep it under control, so I told my partner "if they keep doing them, we'll keep calling them." Very little from the four coaches. One butthead fan, but only briefly buttheaded. It was easy money...

except my ankle started acting up in the second quarter of the second game.

A lesser man would be in the hospital in critical condition. But me? I'm all about the kids. I kept reffing. I didn't stop running (well, if you call what I do running). I played through the pain, bay-bee.

The ankle hurt. Then in migrated to the knee, then back to the ankle, then up to the hamstring. With two minutes left, I asked the AD if he could get some ice ready. He did. I put it under my hamstring for the ride home. And when I got out of the car...well...I could barely walk. The pain is in my left ankle, in back of the knob on the inside. It seems to curl around that bone.

So I downed a pair of Tylenol, and I've got fast food on the guest bed. I'm reclining in a robe with two packs of ice. I may need a third...the knee is starting to bark now.

I had to back out of Thursdays games due to a work commitment. Now I'm very, very grateful I did.

GOOD: Helped out a partner, consistently called it the same
WORK ON: Got straightlined a couple times, mostly as lead. This must mean I'm not moving enough.
NEXT: A week from Friday I wrap up the season with a boys' freshman game. It was a damn quick season.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Game Log 2/4/2008: Small school

My earlier complaint about tonight being a two-man varsity game was unfounded. It was small school time with a capital S...we're talking an enrollment of 100. That's 50 girls, and 10 of them are on the basketball team. The other 90 were all in the stands. It was a loud, hot, humid gym. The play wasn't very good, but these are fun nights.

Felt pretty good all night. Partner was quite good...he's been around the block a few times, so even though we hadn't ever seen each other before tonight, the game was smooth. He cheated a little bit and didn't switch on the occasional foul, which I find irritating, but that was the exception.

Weird night where I called the first two fouls. The third was a double whistle where I tried to release to him, but he wouldn't let me. It all evened out in the end.

I was sort of a comedian with one coach. After a time out, he said "It's our ball, right?" I said "No. White ball. They had it and they called time out." His response: "Oh, yeah. I'm sorry." I cracked him up when I said: "I accept your apology."

Two-person games with a billion turnovers are not good for the ankles. My offseason goal: Good, good new shoes.

DID WELL: Game was well under control throughout. Coach management, call selection.
WORK ON: I was probably guilty of some ball watching, since so very little was going on tonight.
NEXT: We're winding down now. Two junior high tomorrow, two junior high Thursday, and a freshman game a week later.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Disagreement with a partner

I don't like bashing partners--it's bad mojo, so I just catharted all of my partner complaints for my career into one post. But I had a disagreement with a varsity-level partner recently that's troubling me, so I'm going to post about it here. I don't think it's partner-bashing to do this; he's clearly comfortable with his position, and I with mine. But I want to post here to get some other perspectives.

It started with the opening jump. My more-experienced partner was tossing. The ball was tipped, rattled around a little bit, and was tied up again--the tall jumper for White and a shorter player (not the original jumper) for Blue. Bizarre, weird situation I've had covered in a few meetings but have never actually had happen before: if there's a tie-up before the possession arrow has been established, we jump again, and the two players who tied it up jump. I love it when bizarre, rare rules come into play. I stepped in and pointed at the two players. He said "Nope...same two jumpers."

He's wrong. I know he's wrong. It's not worth a fight, but I know he's wrong.

The bad part is that the White coach, wanting the advantage of a smaller Blue jumper, asks me "It should be Blue 32 jumping, right?" I had to give him The Big Ignore, because the only truthful response I could give him was "Yep. You're right. My partner is wrong."

I figured partner just had a brain fart (and if you read this often, you know that I certainly have plenty of those myself). But at halftime, I told my partner the rule, and he essentially told me that, while that's true, he did it his way because it was more just. What happened was that Blue grabbed the ball a split second before White tied him up, he said, and rather than setting the arrow for White, giving Blue the ball, and then changing the arrow back to White, he figured he'd just re-jump. I never did figure out why he did a do-over with the original jumpers instead of following the actual rule and jumping with the players who were tied up, but he was adamant that what he did was good for the game.

Then, another similar situation.

Free throw by White. The ball is released. Blue enters the lane before the ball hits. Air ball.

I know this one, because I screwed it up just a couple of weeks ago.

Double violation. We go to the arrow.

I sold it, I explained it to the table, heard nothing from either coach...I got it right.

But at halftime, my partner disagreed.

"We need to give her another free throw."

I told him that wasn't the rule, that I'd learned it the hard way recently, that we need to go to the arrow. He said that we, as an association, had decided that we would award a substitute free throw because of disconcertion. I asked how it could be disconcertion if the White player had already released the ball when Blue stepped in. He never answered the question to my satisfaction. Instead, he said: "You'll never go wrong awarding another free throw. Nobody will ever complain."

This bugged me for two reasons. First, it was empirically wrong. Both coaches knew what happened because I sold the call. Not a peep from either. I had to explain the the table it was a jump ball situation, but that wasn't a big deal.

Second, if we had a coach who knew the rule--like the White coach did for the jump ball situation--we'd be in the untenable position of standing by a position we knew was wrong. I don't ever want to do that.

I realized the discussion had no chance of going anywhere, so I said "I respectfully disagree." His response:

"Well, that's fine, but when you work with me, we'll do it my way."

It's hard enough getting the rule book down solid. Now, thanks to this partner, I not only have to know the rulebook, I have to memorize which rules each of my partners will follow and which rules they will set aside. And even though this guy was a good partner overall, I have a pretty severe problem with that.

His impression of me is that I'm a soulless rule-follower. That's not the case. I occasionally look the other way. For example, if an overweight player in a girls' JV game is wearing the largest jersey they can find, and if that jersey comes untucked every time she reaches her arms above her head, I'm not going to embarrass the kid by continually sending her to the bench to tuck her shirt in.

But something that affects play on the court--like each of these situations do--well, the whole damn point is to get it right. Not right by my internal sense of justice, not right based on minimizing bench reaction, but right based on the book. And when it comes to a ruling that impacts play on the court, I don't feel right about an official's own foibles superseding that.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Game Log 2/2/2008: Pretty good day

JV and Varsity tonight. I have to say...I'm not a huge fan of making the varsity game the second of the night. But tonight was a great night overall...two good partners, two pretty good teams, and no real problems because we were on top of everything.

The JV game featured two coaches who gave a little bit of guff. The home coach only did so once, but it was really quite snotty. I had a foul on the opposite sideline. Red was trying to sneak by on one sideline. White went to close it down, and gave Red an ever so slight hip. It's one I'd normally overlook, but Red stepped out of bounds because of it. I either have to call out of bounds--and reward the hip--or call the foul. I went foul. Coach asked for an explanation. I gave it. "She slid over and got her with the hip, which knocked her out of bounds." Coach responded with bullshit sarcasm. "Oh, did she? Mmm-hmm. Of course." Why in heck does any adult believe this is an appropriate way to treat another adult? Whatever. She was walking away, and I didn't want to chase her down. I didn't hear from her again...nor would I have listened to her if I had. One partner was really mad at Red's coach throughout...kept talking about it at time outs. I tried really hard to calm him down a bit...playing Calm Guy.

Fun JV game, too...won by a bucket with six seconds left. Felt calm throughout the tense finish. Awesome.

The varsity game was quite smooth as well. I can only recall a couple I'd like back...a travel or two I missed, one ticky-tack I could have passed on. I'll take that. The second half was weird...the game didn't much come to me.

I was pleased with my coach management. White had assistants chirping at me. I told the coach that I'd listen to her as much as she wanted, but I needed her assistants to back off. They did, even joking with me a little. Red gave me trouble on a push call. Here's how the conversation went:

HIM: What was the call?
ME: A forearm to the back of the shoulders, coach. It was pretty bad.
HIM: Did you see her get cut off? [For the record, I don't think this happened.]
ME: I told you what I saw.
HIM: Well, you have to see the whole play. You have to see the whole thing happen so you can understand it and make the right call.
ME: [Showing palm] Coach, when I need your help...

Here's where my favorite thing happened. The assistant coach, who had coached the JV that day, put his arm around the head coach and calmed him down. I may be projecting my own story on that action, but I think it's because I was nice to him. One of his girls was hurt during the JV game, so before the game began, I asked him (from my position as U1) if she was okay. Is it possible my being nice to the JV coach helped him calm down his varsity coach? I think so.

I sure hope I have a varsity schedule next year. It's so much more enjoyable.

GOOD: Coach management, call selection
WORK ON: I'm saying bizarre things after my whistle. I need to slow down and talk less.
NEXT: Tiny-school varsity on Monday. Alas, it's 2-man.

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