For the majority of people who don a striped shirt and step onto a basketball court with a whistle, officiating is more than a means of making a few extra dollars and getting out of the house for a bit of exercise.
It is perhaps a suitable substitute for athletic competition from days gone by, or simply a way to make an active contribution to youth recreation. But whatever the reason, it is a craft that you should take great pride in performing.
When you make the commitment to respect your officiating craft, you develop a growing level of personal fulfillment that comes during the journey of attempting to master the skill set of being a referee.
And just as every follower contributes to the overall reputation of a team’s fan base by their individual conduct; so too does each official play a critical part in forming the reputation of officials with both colleagues and customers.
There are a few simple steps (‘simple,’ yes; but for some not so easy) that will help strengthen your respect for the craft of officiating.
Tend Your Own Garden First
If you want to help raise the level of appreciation and respect for officials, you have to be able to hold up your end. That means:
- Know the rules – Rule competency breeds calmness and confidence in chaos.
- Be fit – Whatever your body type, make sure it can get up and down the court.
- Show up on time – Arrive early enough to pre-game with your partner and assess the situation.
- Be courteous – It’s a choice, not a chore, to referee a game. Act like it!
Be Social On Social Media
Speak, type and post about another official (or anyone involved in a game you are discussing) as if they are standing right next to you because it will ultimately get back to them! Second-guessing, or worse, badmouthing a fellow official to a colleague, coach or spectator demonstrates a lack of respect on your part for our challenging avocation.
If you feel compelled to discuss a particular situation in a game, remember you were not there, and you are only getting one side of the story. Speak in terms of a rule and its interpretation. Since you did not see the play, you cannot possibly know if the criteria of a rule was followed or violated.
If the person relaying the scenario hears your explanation of a rule and says, “the ref blew the call!”
You should always say, “I don’t know, I wasn’t there.”
Politicians and people testifying under oath are counseled to stick to a thought out sound bite. So should officials who find themselves talking about another referee.
Don’t Find Joy In Another’s Misery
If a gossipy conversation suddenly ignites around you, or you unsuspectingly walk into one, do your part to help extinguish it by removing your oxygen from the conversation.
Taking pleasure in another referee’s misfortune shows a tremendous lack of character and makes it apparent to everyone that part of your career strategy for advancement is to step on the backs of those who have stumbled.
Just keep in mind to step lightly, because there is a dark storm cloud out there with your name on it just waiting for the right set of random circumstances to align themselves and rain hard all of your game.
Now if you choose to stay in a petty conversation, be sure to offer an empathetic rebuttal to the war story. Follow that up with a short call, text or email to the official who happened to get caught in the storm on this particular day.
Respect is considered one of the greatest expressions of love, and your respect for minding your words and deeds makes a meaningful contribution to elevating our great craft!