You are the Referee on a game, and while you are checking the score book, the visiting coach approaches you and complains about the location of his/her team’s bench.
If this is a late-round scholastic playoff game, it may be your first time in the gym; or it might be a facility you have officiated in numerous times and never really took notice of the exact locations of the benches.
But a quick glance at the designated areas for both squads, and you can clearly see the validity of the visiting coach’s complaint.
The home team’s head coach can literally touch the scorer’s table from their seat; and the visiting head coach’s seat is approximately 15 feet away from the table and is separated by a partition which partially blocks the visiting team’s view of the table.
With seemingly split-second decisions being made on critical substitutions, the longer distance for players to hustle to the scorer’s table to be ready to be beckoned onto the floor by an official puts the visiting team at a distinct disadvantage, is a reasonable argument to make.
As the Referee, what are you going to do?
As the Referee on the game you’re not going to do anything but listen respectfully to the coach’s complaint.
Except for matters involving player safety, the officials have no authority to move the location of either bench, no matter how seemingly unfair the placement of the seating area appears to be for the visiting team.
It is the responsibility of the game or home management for determining the location of the team benches.
So unless the visiting team coach can make a compelling argument that the location of his/her team bench creates a safety issue for the players and the coaching staff, the coach must accept the bench designation location of the decision-makers in charge of hosting the game.
Clearly, those in charge will almost certainly have both team benches on floor-level seats or bleachers and that both benches will be approximately the same distance from the scorer’s table whenever possible.
But the bottom line (and perhaps the good news) is, that it is not the job of the officials to adjudicate the matter of bench placement, unless the location involves player safety.
And lastly, if you do come across a situation where the visiting team bench is located in an area that clearly creates a distinct disadvantage for them in being able to report quickly to the table, or obstructing their view the game, the Referee should report this situation to their Assignor and the matter should be moved up the chain of command to the state association office.
NFHS Casebook 1.13.1