Saturday, March 11, 2023

Another basketball story

Quick tale for you today because I was reminded after seeing a terrible call in a college baseball game (I'll try to embed the tweet).

An adult blatantly disregarded their duties because they felt like a college kid showed them up (after they made a clear mistake). They made it personal and that was unacceptable.

But it reminded me of a time a referee did something similar to me.

We're going back to my high school days for this so I was probably 16. I contested a shot and made no contact with the other player, but was whistled for a foul. I was frustrated and just yelled - didn't say words, just made noise.

A play or two later, I was inbounding the ball and that official said "you need to calm down." I said "I will, but that wasn't a foul and you know it." I passed the ball in and went on down the court.

The next time we were on defense, I got called for a reach-in foul. This wouldn't have been bad, except that I was on the opposite side of the court from the play. I almost lost my shit, but a teammate pulled me away and I was subbed out. The other official (who I'd gotten to know over the years) asked the guy if he made a mistake with the number and was told "nope, he knows what he did." Ol Pat was fuming - and these were the days when I didn't really know how to compose myself yet. But we finished the game without incident. I'm sorry, but I do not remember if we won (we probably did not).

After the game, I was about ready to go off on this ref, but the other one pulled me aside. "I know how you're feeling, but don't do it. I'll talk to him and I'm gonna let the boss (another referee who was the head of the region and I guy I knew) know. That was bullshit what he did." I thanked him and went on my way. I think I've posted about this ref before and how this wasn't the only time he stuck up for me. What a good dude. I hope he's doing well.

A week later we had home games. I wasn't playing but I was at the gym running the kitchen. The officials were my buddy and the head of the region. I saw the boss talking to my mom (who was the athletic director for our parish at the time) and they motioned me to them. "I heard what happened. Are you good?" "Yeah man, it just felt like he had it out for me." "Well you won't have to worry about that, because I've made sure he won't do games for you guys again." I for sure appreciated that.

I don't tell you this to brag that I had connections, by the way, because I didn't get a ton of special treatment (nor did I ever want it). But that college player's at-bat should not have been affected in such a way because an adult felt embarrassed. The umpire made it personal just like that official did to me. There are better ways to handle situations like that. Call time and warn the hitter. Eject him if you really feel like he violated some rule (not your feelings). Making a call to affect the game - I know it was 7-3 in the 9th with two outs, but still - because you felt slighted is bullshit.

I did read today that the umpire has been removed from the rest of that series, which is the right call. I wouldn't want him back out there after that. You don't know how long that pettiness will last, and it could come out at a more crucial spot. Good on the NCAA for making that move. (UPDATE: The umpire has been suspended indefinitely.)

So I guess the lesson here is this: If you can't handle being criticized for making obvious errors? Maybe don't take a job where that will invariably happen. Or if you do? Get thicker skin, you big baby.

(This post was brought to you by Broad Street Bound.)

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