LIMA – The announcement is made before every game: This is a game between high school athletes, let’s all show respect for the players, the coaches, and the referees.
The officials are introduced by name and how many years they have been officiating to polite applause.
And then the ball is tossed in the air at midcourt and fans, on both sides, forget that announcement and begin yelling at those blank-blank referees.
They are blind, ignorant the rules, biased against our team, out of position, or worst of all, they just plain missed a call.
At the risk of alienating fans of certain schools, or in some case coaches of certain schools, let me say this for the final time, GET A LIFE.
Today’s athletes are bigger, faster, and stronger than ever before and, as a result, the game is harder than ever to officiate.
Throw in the fact that technological advances (cell phone cameras for one) allow fans to take pictures of extremely close calls and being an official is even less of an enticement than ever.
Yet the following events have occurred in recent weeks:
A coach was thankfully prevented from going into the officials’ locker room following a last-second loss.
A cheerleader (think about that for a minute) was removed from the game for abusive conduct toward an official.
A statistician at the scorer’s table tried to give (incorrectly) advice to an official about how long his team had to replace a player who had fouled out.
An school texted pictures supporting their position that a last-second shot shouldn’t have counted. I got mine at 6:30 a.m.
An adult fan, who was given preferred seating under the basket for those with a disability, spent the game helping and/or correcting the officials depending on whether their call went for or against his school.
I have probably covered somewhere in the vicinity of 300 to 350 games since I began covering games for this newspaper.
Never, have I felt the need to insert any comment about the officiating into any story I have written.
A turnover here, a missed free throw there, a possibly a missed defensive assignment that led to an open layup, all played a large part in the win or loss of the game before the officials ever blew their whistle.
Just like turnovers, missed free throws, and blown defensive assignments are part of the game, so are officials simply trying to do the best they can under intense pressure.
Are there good officials?
Generally speaking, and in the majority of cases, most definitely the answer is yes.
Are there bad officials?
Generally speaking, and in the minority of cases, some officials are not as good as the good ones.
Are there officials who have it out for your school?
If you think that there are, you need to take a really deep breath, count slowly to 10, and imagine a game with no one on the court making a decisive call at the end of a well played contest.
Since James Naismith invented the game of basketball officials have been a vital part of it.
Let’s all accept that fact and appreciate the time, effort, and training that all officials go through in an effort to bring structure to a game we all love, high school basketball.