Referee responses

Some interesting feedback on today’s column about the good guys in sports officiating. Several writers took the opportunity to voice confessions on their own dealings with refs. I’d like to thank those who took time to write, and share some of the responses.

From Bob Durbin . . .

Your article this morning more than hit a chord with me. For years, especially when my kids were very young, I was the soccer dad from hell. I need not elaborate on that, except to say that I was am embarrassment to my kids, my wife and myself. However, my attitude changes significantly the day that I was called on to call lines for a scrimmage for my son’s team. I then realized how wickedly difficult it is to get even a simple call right and it occurred to me that I wished I had learned that lesson much earlier in my kids’ careers. It would have saved everyone a lot of grief.

From Ken McGuffey, Scottsville, Ky.

Thank you for getting the thoughts of a referee in this column. I began refereeing high school basketball in Indiana when I realized that I would not have any involvement in this wonderful sport after my son graduated from high school. This was 1990. My final (not intended) last game came in 2007 on my 60th birthday when I tore cartilage in my knee during a game. I met and worked with the same types of individuals mentioned in your column. Most of us did not do it for the money but for the love and thrill of being a part of the game. You are somewhat correct in that one can easily get into officiating – it is easy to get a license by passing a test form a state high school athletic association, e.g. KHSAA or IHSAA. I will warn you though that the exam is far more difficult than one to get a drivers license. After that however it becomes practice just like the kids playing the game. There are meetings with referee associations, clinics before the season (like KFOA) and during summer camps, AAU, CYO etc

It is amazing at the difference in the game at floor level than on the sidelines. Also, knowing the rules and having the discipline to let plays unfold before making a decision are musts for the referee. I learned an incredible ability to focus on the game at hand during a live ball, an ability I transferred to everyday working situations. Referees hear comments from crowd and coaches during game situations. I was amazed at many times fans and coaches did not know the rules. In dead ball situations, one could only grin and shake their heads at our critics but hey, they paid to get in.

I never worked a perfect game. As referees say, “You’re only as good as your next call.” A good game was like a victory – a real high and I had my share. The next morning it was back to work at my day job.

Thanks for the article.

Several readers wrote to take me to task, thinking I mistook Sweden for Switzerland with my reference to that country’s neutrality. Certainly, Switzerland is probably the better known for remaining neutral, but Sweden has been neutral in wartime since 1814.

Which is more than most of us can say when it comes to discussing refs!


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