How to rank

I”m never a fan of ranking my colleagues, but now I have to do it twice.  In addition to 1-10 scores for every official I have worked with or watched work this year, I have been instructed to pick the top 25 in our association (as the other top 25 officials have been instructed).  How to do this?  There are some difficult issues to contend with.

–First, and most importantly, I developed this rule of thumb:   If I were working a tough game tonight, and my life depended on my crew having a good night, who would I want to work with?  This gave my list a far more holistic approach, and led me to worry less about how-much-does-mechanics-matter, how-much-does-positioning, what-about-communication…blah blah blah.  No.  I just reduced it to that one question, and that (mostly) simplified things.

–But with this in mind, how the heck to I rank officials I’ve never worked with?  I’ve see pretty much everybody work at least a little bit…but watching someone does nothing to help me determine whether I’d stake my life on having a good game with them.  Working with them does.  How much do I go on reputation?  How much on what I’ve seen from the stands?  That was probably the most difficult task in this endeavor.

–Likeability off the court doesn’t matter.  My dad was an anesthesiologist.  He hated surgeons, and he’d get  into heated arguments when asshole surgeons would mistreat nurses or generally think that they were holier-than-God because they cut people open.  When those surgeons’ children needed an anesthetic, though, they’d always ask my dad to give it, and when I needed surgery, Dad didn’t base his decisions for my doctors on who he liked hanging out with.  So even if I think a guy acts like a jerk at meetings, if they are somebody I know I can count on when we’re on the court together, that trumps likeability.

–Any official I have ever seen egregiously lollygag simply because they were in a low-level (usually girls’) game was severely, severely punished.  Nothing makes me angrier than someone’s belief that they are too good for whatever game they’ve been assigned that day.  I’ll quit officiating 5 minutes after I get that feeling for the first time.  But if you can’t make it to halfcourt or fake interest just because the teams aren’t as talented, then you are, quite simply, not a good official, and I don’t want you working the big games.

It reminds me of the exchange from The Breakfast Club, which I change slightly for this context:

“What, you think I”m a terrible official because I can’t hustle in a girls’ JV game?”
“No, I think you’re a GENIUS official because you can’t hustle in a girls’ JV game.”

So, if I’ve seen egregious lolligagging, you will be pushed well down or even off the list, regardless of your reputation.

Net result:  my list is probably different from others’  lists or the final product.  There are people high on the association’s list (which, by the way, is not published) that probably make my top 25, and there are people in my top ten who might not be near a sniff of playoff games.  So be it.  They asked me, and I answered–and now I’ve said how.


About Paul Hamann
I am a basketball referee in Washington State, working mostly high school games.

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