Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Sensative Ref

This guy does not deserve to be post #400, but I'm still pretty mad about this situation that arose on Tuesday at our Men's League Basketball game.

Our team shows up ready to go, and the other team was running late. Only one of their players was in the gym just two minutes before gametime. Eventually, the rest of their team showed up and we got the game going. The older, larger ref was at center court for the tip. He says, "Alright guys, here's your warning, I don't want to hear any complaining."

I thought he was joking because as we all know, there will inevitably be at least a small amount of complaining during a basketball game. You can't please everyone all the time, and when two teams are competing against each other, the sides will see things differently quite often. I replied, "Hey, I'll take another warning later as well," and I smiled to indicate I was joking.

"I'll give you a warning," he retorted in a straight faced manner. Apparently this guy could not take joke or recognize common social cues. No big deal, right? Just go on with the chlorophyll...

So the game gets going, and at this point the details get a little fuzzy. I know there were a couple missed calls both ways and a bit of complaining from both teams. At one point, the ref stops the game and warns both teams.

"You guys want to complain? Fine. I can call all the ticky-tack fouls. I'll just call everything."

This is red flag numero uno for a referee. A ref should NEVER adjust his call of the game to react to or punish teams complaining. If a complaint is coming across as wildly inappropriate or aggressive, there is this little thing called a "technical foul" that the ref has at their disposal. I don't know if everyone has heard of it [yeah, that was massive sarcasm], but a "technical foul" or "T," as the kids call it these days, is used to reward the other team two free throws (or in some men's leagues, automatic points) and the possession. If you get two technical fouls, you get thrown out of the game (and in some leagues, like ours, you would be suspended for the next game.)

Essentially, the "T" has a magical way of making people shut up. A ref should warn someone if they are complaining a couple times, if it gets worse, can "T" them up. At NO POINT should the ref do what our ref did next.

At some point (it could've been when a guy on the other team intentionally pressed his elbow into my spine and I asked the ref to watch for things like that), he deemed me a complainer and began to call the game against me. I know players may think refs are out to get them occasionally, but this guy actually had it out for me. Here a few examples:

- The guy I guarded most of the game was a pretty good shooter. He was hitting from the outside. At some point, I jumped to help inside, the ball was kicked to the corner where my man was. I went to close out on him, but I was clearly too late. I put my hand up, drifted to the side of him and literally did not touch him. He missed the shot, and all of sudden the whistle blew. I was called for a foul, and he got three foul shots. I swear on my Gibson guitar I did not touch him. I looked at my opponent, and slapped me five and said, "Sorry man." Even my opponent was shocked that the ref called a foul. Of course, he wasn't going to argue with the ref, nor should he. He's doing everything to win, and I would have done the same.

- During the free throws, the ref stood right next to me on the block. I noticed he was standing in play during free throws (I'm fairly certain the correct placement for a ref is out of play on the baseline, but I digress.) In this case, he was inches from me on the block. I honestly felt like he called a phantom foul, and then stood right next to me to goat me into saying something, so then he could "T" me up. A referee's job is to call the game fairly their way, and not instigate situations with players to get them to complain. The sensitive ref believed I was a problem, and now he was intentionally trying to get rid of me. This is infuriating, and has the potential to cause a far worse problem than when a normal ref calls a "T."

- One of our players noticed that the ref's ear was bleeding slightly. He said, "Hey ref, your ear is bleeding." The ref checked, saw the blood, and said, "Oh, I think #24 scratched me." Who's #24, you ask? Take one guess. Now this jerk is blaming me for a bumbling injury that I had nothing to do with. My blood is boiling just thinking about this guy.

I kept my mouth shut the whole second half because I figured that this guy was out to get me. One other terrible thing this ref was doing that more to do with his inept reffing rather than how he was conspiring to find an obvious way to kick me out of the gym was when players would drive the lane and get fouled going up, he would call a foul and say, "On the pass- take it out on the baseline." Yes, I understand that if you murdered going up, someone may also hit the ball so that it does not go toward the basket, but that doesn't mean the player wasn't going up for a shot. This happened over and over. Just another horrible move by this guy.

In case you're curious, we ended up winning the game in overtime. No amount of shoddy reffing could stop our team in the end, but it was damn frustrating. The worst part is, the second ref on the floor is one of the best refs around. He's reffed a number of our games, and he's great. Calls everything fairly both ways, is confident in his own style, and never takes anything personally. Exactly the way a men's league referee should call a game.

I'm not asking for refs to be the butt of abusive comments, but in comparison, when I play a gig at a bar where I'm playing tons of cover songs, I understand that I get paid a premium to take a bit of flack from a drunk sorority girl that wants to hear "Sweet Home Alabama" or a guy who wants to tell me all about the time that his band had one gig and they used to play one of the songs that I just played. I have to let that roll off my back, and explain in a funny or non-confrontational way that that song is horrible or about how interesting someone's story is. I would not continue to get gigs if I got angry, told these hypothetical examples to shut up, and then called over a bouncer to remove them. I have to act a certain way because I'm paid to.

Refs are paid to not only control a game and preserve it's integrity, they are paid a premium to let harmless complaints roll off their back. This guy was not able to do that, and it made him the worst ref I've come across in many, many years.


GMoney said...

I would like to hear the ref's side of the story here. About your being a hacking machine and a flopper and being more annoying to deal with than Rasheed Wallace!

It isn't real basketball until someone starts bleeding from the ear.

Tony B. said...

I'm telling you G$, I am that much of a complainer- this guy was just the worst ref ever.

I have a feeling, being an umpire that probably messes with people, that you're just trying to get under my skin as well. Damn you!