Things I wish I had done as an official

If I had a mulligan on my basketball officiating avocation, here are some things I?d like to do differently.

The most obvious do-over would be making all the right calls. But I never had a perfect game and it was becoming more and more obvious, even to me, that it was never going to happen in my lifetime.

Consider that I officiated more than 2,000 games during 40 years, and on a good night an official is likely to miss two or three calls either by omission or commission.

I was better some games than others, but it?s safe to say I missed more than 5,000 calls in my officiating career. That?s more than a little humbling. I suppose it would have been nice to have only missed 4,000 or so calls.

After one game, the supervisor of officials came in to visit with our crew. I was bemoaning the fact that I had missed a couple of calls. Trying to encourage me, the supervisor replied, ?But look how many calls you got right.?

On another occasion, after officiating a five-overtime high school boys? rivalry game between Carroll and Kapaun, this same supervisor came in to our dressing room and said, ?You guys called a good game. You missed some, but not nearly as many as the two teams did.?

It?s always easy to look back on certain situations and wish I had handled it differently. Just one time I wish I would have handled a whining coach the way I heard one official did. Trust me. There are a few whiners out there.

These particular coaches have a knack of being sarcastic or complaining, and they certainly have that reputation among the officials, but they aren?t always demonstrative or do enough to warrant a technical foul.

Anyway, an official allegedly went and stood by a whining coach during the game. As play continued, the official remained standing next to the coach, even though the ball went to the opposite end of the court.

The whining coach finally blurted, ?Why are you standing here??

To which the official responded, ?Coach, you?re right. You can see better from here!?

OK, it?s probably a good thing I didn?t do that, although it sure was tempting a time or two.

And then there?s the case of how an official in a high school girls? game handled an unsportsmanlike situation. Team A was routing Team B by 40 or so points in the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, Team A continued running a full-court press against hapless Team B.

Team B would have had enough challenges bringing the ball up the court without pressure, I was told, much less against a good team pressing full court. Most coaches are pretty good about recognizing when to just let the game finish respectfully, but there are a few who won?t take their foot off the gas pedal and don?t care if they embarrass the other team.

On one such occasion, the official encouraged the coach to do the right thing, telling the coach to ?Call it (the press) off.?

The coach ignored the suggestion, and his team continued pressing full court.

Here?s where it got interesting. The next time Team A pressed and stole the ball, the official called a foul. The next time Team A stole the ball while pressing, even though it was another clean steal, the official called another foul.

The Team A coach said to the official, ?You?re going to keep calling fouls as long as we press, aren?t you??

The official said, ?Yep.?

So the coach finally dropped the press, allowing the game to finish more civilly.

Even though I think the official made his point, I guess it wasn?t my nature to handle situations like that. Not that it didn?t cross my mind.

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