Observations from a retired official

Question my sanity if you want. You wouldn?t be the first. Why would anyone officiate basketball for 40 years?

After choosing to hang up my whistle, I can honestly tell you, I don?t know.

Like I often told coaches, ?I hope you don?t question my judgment tonight, because if I had good judgment would I be here doing this??

But alas, they questioned my judgment, and sometimes so did I.

Officials joke that coaches are temporarily insane during games. Of course, the same could be said of officials, especially if you remove the word temporarily.

The thing that both have in common is a love for the game and a love for the kids.

I?ve learned many things over the years; far more than one column can contain. I plan to share some inside officiating stories over time, but don?t worry, I?ll try not to bore you to tears.

Just to get things started, let me offer the following observations:

1. Officials try hard to get the calls right, and I believe we get most of them right, but we know we?re not perfect.

2. I usually was aware when the fouls were lopsided against one team, and on occasion, I would look for a reason to call a foul on a team with fewer fouls. I also learned there is a reason why a team is called for more fouls on some nights.

3. Traveling is probably the one call you can see better from the stands than on the court, assuming you know the traveling rule. It?s easy to miss because it happens quickly, and sometimes an official is too close to see the feet of a player with the ball in addition to everything else going on.

4. It?s impossible to please every coach, but I tried my best. Even so, there were times coaches didn?t get it. I remember a coach who didn?t like that I/we let a 6-foot-2 girl block shots without fouling. After giving me an earful, I responded, ?That?s enough.?

He wasn?t satisfied and continued to press his point. I said, ?Do you want a technical?? He still argued, and I finally gave him a technical foul. The coach responded, ?What?s the technical for??

Believe it or not, the coach and I had a relatively civil conversation later in the game.

5. Sometimes it?s best to be quiet. As one official said, ?Silence can?t be quoted.?

6. Even in my last year of officiating, I learned things from fellow officials.

7. Whining coaches don?t help themselves. A friend told me about a coach who complained about traveling four or five times in the first three minutes of a high school girls? basketball game. After a traveling call was made, the coach sarcastically said something like, ?After they travel five times, it?s about time you called it.?

My friend blew his whistle, walked over to the coach and said, ?If I hear you say ?traveling? one more time tonight, it?s a technical foul.?

My friend didn?t hear the word again.

Another line some coaches liked to say was, ?They?re traveling every time!? An effective response was, ?Really? Every time??

8. Some coaches have a sense of humor. During the second half of a close first-round game in this year?s Class 6A High School State Basketball Tournament, a coach said to my partner who finally rotated over in front of his bench, ?How are you doing tonight? I haven?t seen you for a while.? My partner replied, ?I?m OK coach, how are you doing?? The coach replied, ?Just living the dream.?

9. I can?t think of any technical foul that I?d take back, but I can think of some I didn?t call when I should have.

10. Good basketball is easier to officiate than bad basketball. After a particularly ugly high school boys? basketball game years ago when I was a young official, my veteran partner said, ?Kleinsasser, the best thing about that game was the officiating. And that wasn?t too good!?

Officiating stories, like fishing stories, get better over time. Stay tuned for more stories about coaches, players and officials.

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