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Officials held to unfair standards

Your favorite team is up 103-102 with 5 seconds left to play and the opposing team is about to inbound the ball underneath the basket on the other side of the court. The ball is inbounded and the player starts running down the court as the clock starts ticking away. 5, 4, 3 the clock is ticking away and the player goes up to the free throw line to take the game winning jump shot. 2, 1 the player shoots and the whistle blows. Foul has been called on the play and the player is going to the line to shoot 2 free throws. You are furious with the call the referee just made. You think it shouldn’t have been a foul and it was a clean blocked shot. The player makes both free throws and the opposing team wins the game. You blame the referee for that loss and you won’t let that game go. This happens a lot in the world of sports when people think the referee has just cost the team the game but the referee’s are just doing their job.

Officiating athletic contests can be one of the most difficult tasks anyone can be asked to do. Officials are required to take exams and attend clinics to give them the tools they need to call the game according to the rules. But knowledge of the rules and attending all the clinics, does not always guarantee them to call a perfect game. Because even though the calls they make may not be crowd pleasers, it’s what the official sees and not what the crowd sees. It takes a lot of courage to make a call at a critical point in a game, knowing that that call could adversely affect the outcome for one of the teams. The official cannot think of it in that sense. He or she must make the call, the right call, for the integrity of the game. It is a thankless job. Unfortunately, too many coaches and fans put too much emphasis on that one call. They seem to forget about the unforced turnover or the missed layup earlier in the contest that might have made that last call a moot point.

Being the son of an official, I know how these games can take a toll on a person. Many times, my father has come home after calling a game feeling as if he could have done better. The official will often second guess himself, but at the end of the day he was only calling the game to the best of his ability, and that’s all anyone involved could ask.

Officials are always criticized but they are doing their best to call a fair game. So the next time you’re at a game and the official makes a call at a critical point in the game, put yourself in their shoes. Then ask yourself, “Would I make the right call?”

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