If you have any funny stories, jokes, quotes or any amusing anecdotes about refereeing please email me them and I will include them here.
One of the funniest things that ever happened to me was while refereeing a Manly Under 18 Women’s game at Beacon Hill High School in 1995. I was wearing black track pants with press studs down the sides. Play changed direction suddenly, my thumb got caught in the side of the pants as I changed direction, and I ripped my pants open, with them falling to the ground! I was left standing in front of the visiting teams bench with my pants around my ankles wearing nothing but a pair of jocks!
Why did the chicken cross the road?
It heard that the referees were calling fouls.
Some of my favourite quotes: “How long, how long, how long?” (and the obvious answer – “oh, about 8 inches”) “1.2.3…c’mon three seconds” (when will players & coaches realise that it is 3 seconds not onetwothree?)
Possibly the funniest thing I have ever seen on a basketball court was a few years ago, when I refereed a State League Women’s game at St Pious. My partner (a senior, experienced referee) called a pushing foul on a player, and approached the bench to make his signal. He called the number, and then indicated the “pushing” hand signal to one side of his body. Little did he realise that a player was standing next to him at the time. As he extended his arms for the call, his hands made perfect contact with the young ladies breasts! I have never seen a referee so speechless before, it took quite a while for everyone to regain their composure. (The morale – look, before you make a signal – I have also seen players punched by over zealous offensive foul calls!)
My younger brother played reps for Manly for several years. In an Under 18’s game he was elbowed in the head, which opened a gash above his eye, requiring several stitches. The call: head butting the other players elbow! (What are some referees thinking?)
Recently I was refereeing an Open Men’s Division 2 game at MWBA, when a player was hit hard on the hand while attempting a three point shot. After I called “play” the player turned to me screaming for the foul. As we made our way up the court, I said “he got you on the hand” to which the player responded “Yeah … the hand’s part of the ball!” “Exactly” I said and turned away – I never did figure out what the player was arguing about!
The following is my personal opinion of what it takes to be a good referee. It should not be taken as gospel, and certain aspects may not suit everybody’s style of refereeing. It is what I have learnt from my own experience, from talking to my peers, and most importantly, by watching referees that are better than me, and learning by example. I cannot stress this enough – the next time you watch a high level game (i.e. NBA, NBL, Olympics, etc) watch the referees even if only for a quarter. Ignore their mechanics as it will probably be different to the level that you referee at, but pay attention to what they call, how they call it, and why they call it.
Anyway, below is a list of the qualities that I believe makes a good referee as well as a short explanation of why it is important, and how to improve that quality in your game.
Professionalism: To me, this is the most important factor of all. A senior referee once told me “if you look the part – players will believe that you know what you are doing” and this is very true. Professionalism means several things; uniform, not shooting around during timeouts, half time etc, being on time and most importantly, treating the players, coaches and spectators with respect, no matter what happens. The game is there for them – not you!
Consistency: There is nothing worse than a referee that calls one thing at one end, but not at the other. Equally, there must be enough communication between referees to ensure that both officials are calling the same things. This goes back to the importance of a pre-game conference.
Confidence: This cannot be taught, but is vital to being a good referee. If you are hesitant with your call, and blow the whistle softly, no-one will believe that you are positive that you have made the correct call. If you can “sell” a call to a player with a strong whistle and firm, accurate signals, even the most doubting player will walk away thinking “hmm, well maybe I did do that”. Obviously this is something that will come with practice, but it also requires that you have faith in your own ability.
Communication: This plays a major part in refereeing (and life in general). Communicate with your partner throughout the game, verbally, using body language and by making eye contact. Try and talk players through situations that don’t require a whistle – for example some comments that I use frequently are: “hands off the cutter”, “drop the arm”, “play on”, “he was straight up!” etc. However, you need to learn when to make the call, and you must be sure not to talk too much – the whistle is there for a reason! Remember treat the players with respect, never swear at or physically touch a player, regardless of the situation.
Know the Rules: It is not necessary that you can quote every article of the rules by number, but you must have a sound knowledge of the rules. Almost as importantly, you must have an understanding of the spirit of the rules. That is, you have to be able to adjust your refereeing to the level of the competition that you are refereeing. For example, if you are doing the Gold Medal game of the 2004 Olympics, you will (hopeful) run it differently to the first round of the local under 12’s miniball!
Fitness: Although you don’t have to be Superman (or woman), you must be able to at least keep up with the play. Make sure you stretch before the game, and train during the season to maintain (and improve) your overall fitness.
Be Human!: Referees are allowed to smile! Also, I have found that making the occasional joke can quickly diffuse a difficult situation. This is especially useful if you already know the people involved well. Warning: You need to be positive that your comment will not inflame the situation further, and you must be careful not to use any defamatory, discriminatory or obscene language.