A philosophical dilemma

I’ve got my first three weeks’ worth of games scheduled.  Looks like I’m doing almost exactly what I did last year:  crew chief in girls’ games.  I’ve got 14 games.  13 are girls’ games.  8 are varsity of varying stripes, 5 are JV (all attached to girls’ varsity games) and one is a boys’ JV (attached to a girls’ JV game).  I’m crew chief for all of them except one doubleheader.

This is a good sign: I’m exactly where I was last year, which ended with the playoffs, so I’ll take that.  But I got some feedback at camp that indicated my evaluator felt my growth was stunted and I need to be ready to step up to bigger (read: boys) games.

There’s a contradiction at work here.

On the one hand, it’s good to be hungry, to want to do better games, to step up.
On the other hand, we’re told, time and time again, that ALL games are big games, and that if we’re not stepping up each night, we’re doing the game a disservice.  Not just that night’s game, either, but the game of basketball in general.

My own personality is more in tune with the second philosophy.  JV game at a dinky school?  Sure.  I’ll take it.  And I’ll enjoy it.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I was incredibly proud to do the playoff games I was finally assigned last year.  And I’m proud of the work I did, save one damn call in the four games.  But–and here’s the thing–I can’t say I enjoy bigger games more than I enjoy “smaller” games.  They’re all fun and challenging in their own way.  What I liked about the playoff assignment was less the experience of doing the games (which was pretty fabulous, truth be told) than the gold-watch pat-on-the-back reality of being assigned big games.

Add to that the gender issue here.  I honest-to-goodness don’t like the testosterone crap of doing a varsity-boys’ game.  I don’t like it from the players, the coaches, or the crowd.  Now, if my assignor wants me there, I’ll step up.  And I will continue to work on and improve my game so I can be an asset on any court in any game in the county (and, it is to be hoped, the state).

But, all things (like pay) being equal, why deal with the fuss?  I mean, I’ll take pride in the game and do it well, but I’d much rather have a big girls’ game than a big boys’ one.  It’s all the intensity and less bullshit.  Plus, once I say “geez, boys’ games are so much better than girls’ games,” I feel like I’ve taken a big step towards half-assing lower games that I see.  Nothing makes me angrier than watching “elite” refs half-ass games.  Too many of them do.

Is my perspective on all of this wrong?  Does it make me a wuss?

Additionally…this might play into the idea of “leadership,” which is what I’m working on most of all this season.  But that’s a different post for a different day.

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

6 Responses to A philosophical dilemma

  1. cbursian says:

    As I start my second season doing this, I really try to treat every game like a big game. It’s only fair to the kids, the coaches, the fans, and the other officials. Granted, sometimes that’s very difficult to do, especially if the play quality isn’t that great. But, they should still expect the best I have to give. I haven’t had any varsity games yet, and that’s ok with me. I really need another year to gain some experience before stepping up to that, I think.

    That said, I find I like the girls game better as well. Some of my toughest games last year were boys games and the testosterone levels could be through the roof. I did football this year, and I found that to be less intense in many ways than basketball. I don’t know…maybe the experience I had last year with basketball helped to put things in perspective and this year will be easier. Regardless, I’m anxious for the season to get going. Hope you have a great year, and best of luck!

  2. Paul Hamann says:

    That’s interesting, Chris. I was on the chain crew for the high school where I worked for something like 6 years, and I was taken aback by the testosterone levels. Granted, some coaches were class acts with class programs, and the kids were gentlemen. Some were complete losers, and the kids followed suit. Anyway, because of that experience, I wouldn’t touch football. You’re a better man than I. Have a good season yourself!

    • cbursian says:

      I did have some ugly experiences with football this year. I will admit that in one game that was particularly bad, we as officials should have called things tighter. Ironically, I found that youth football brings out the worst in coaches and parents, and I’ve heard similar things about youth basketball.

      • Paul Hamann says:

        That’s absolutely true. The parents are way worse in youth hoops (both genders) than at the HS level. I think it’s because, by the time a player makes it to the high school level, parents have at least gained trace elements of savvy, even if they still often don’t know the rules they’re arguing.

  3. Tudor says:

    I can understand what you mean. On one hand, some of the lower level girls games are excruciatingly hard to bear (all those hands flying around, 4-5 girls running for a ball simultaneously,etc) but on the other hand those games should allow you to work more on your calls/mechanics.
    So when I feel confident about the level I’m currently refereeing I can aspire to more heavy duty games and testosterone or not, in time you can create a certain image of yourself to those players.

  4. MassRef says:

    Depending on your relationship with your assignor, I see no problem in telling him/her exactly how you feel. “I’m willing to do any game where you feel I’m needed. But to be honest, I really LOVE the girls game. So if there’s a spot where you could put me on either one at the same level of importance, I have no problem taking the girls game.” And then take the boys games when that’s what you get 🙂

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