Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Youth Basketball: Refereeing is not Easy

I learned that basketball refereeing is not easy.

My daughter had a scrimmage basketball game last Saturday. The dad of one of my daughter's teammates is a certified ref and offered to officiate the game. He is used to refereeing with another ref so he approached the stands and asked the other dads to take the other referee spot. I was volunteered by the other dads because I was wearing a referee like white golf shirt with black horizontal pinstripes. I could not argue. Heck, I had been refereeing games from the stands for years, how hard can it be.

I found that it is much easier to referee from the stands.

The first challenge is to be in the right position. The referees movements are almost choreographed. They move fluidly together. I never paid much attention to the refs movements before. In the beginning of the game, the real ref was constantly telling me were to be. I found myself paying more attention to where I was positioned and not paying close attention to the action on the court. Eventually the positioning around the court became intuitive and when it did I was better able to concentrated on the game.

The second challenge was calling fouls. I could see them, but I had trouble blowing the whistle in a timely manner. I see the foul. I think to myself what a hack job that was. The play continues. I realize I am the ref. I reach for the whistle then decide that it is too late to call the foul. The ref told me that that is a common issue with new refs.

The third challenge was not rooting for my daughter. I was running the court with the teams and watching my daughter do her thing as the point guard. Several times I had to restrain myself from yelling instructions to her like "watch your back" or "Rachel is open" etc.

Game 115

My daughter's team won the game 15 to 9. CC had 4 points and 3 assists. Most importantly, my refereeing had no impact on the game result.

The Main Point

Refereeing from the stands is easy. Refereeing on the court is not.


  1. Volunteering to referee basketball take real courage. The game is so fast and the people in th stands are close and elevated somewhat and often have a better view of the play than the refs. Almost every call of an inexperienced ref is second guessed by one side or the other.

    I was volunteered by the other parents one time like you were and it was an easier assignment of a baseball game. The home plate ump told me to take first and second base and the right field line. He would take home and third and the right field line.

    Unfortunately there were a lot of close calls at first and second and I don't think that I got one close call right the whole game. I was terrible and never allowed myself to be volunteered again.

    I know for sure after hearing your story, I would never wear a black and white striped shirt to a basketball game just to make sure no one got any bad ideas.

  2. Reffing your daughter's basketball game is a conflict of interest... ethically immoral

  3. It was a scrimmage no ethics or conflict of interest there.




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