“Have no fear of perfection. You’ll never reach it.” -Salvador Dali
Referees. Officials. Blue. Stripes. Zebras. Whatever you choose to call them. There is one thing about them that you can’t deny- THEY ARE PEOPLE. And one thing that is true of all people is we all make mistakes. So let’s take a look at a logical approach to the PEOPLE who call our games.
5 QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT REGARDING REFS
- Have you ever played a mistake-free basketball game?
- Do your teammates make mistakes in games?
- Has your coach ever made a mistake in a game?
- Do your opponents make mistakes in games?
- Has the scorekeeper ever made a mistake in a game?
You get the idea. What makes sports so great to watch is the human element. The mistakes make it have parity. People love the unpredictable. No sport has more parity than basketball, and no tournament more than the NCAA tournament. That’s why it’s regarded as the greatest tournament in sports. Take away the human element and I’ll tell you what you get- a boring, predictable snoozefest. Who wants that?
Since basketball games have so many human beings involved in them, you have to expect mistakes by the dozens. Even in games where both teams play exceptionally well, there are mistakes everywhere. So what makes us think that officials are the only ones on the floor that shouldn’t make any mistakes. Of course logic tells us this isn’t true. But human beings often let emotions overcome their logic.
Refs are going to make bad calls. Get over it. The truth is basketball is a fast game, and many of the calls that are made are bang-bang plays that happen in the blink of an eye. Many times one could make a good argument for a call going either way.
8 TRUTHS ABOUT REFS
- They will make calls that don’t go your way during the course of the game
- They will make bad calls during the course of the game
- There is nothing you can do to change their call
- They don’t care who wins or loses
- They are trying to do the best they can
- They take pride in what they do and want to be good at it
- They are real people with real feelings and emotions
- They have players they like and don’t like
Knowing this, we need to think logically about refs. We need to think about how we can respond well to calls and how we can set ourselves up to get more calls in the future.
HOW TO GET CALLS
- Get Good: Like everything in life, before we complain about something we need to take make sure we take personal responsibility first. The better team gets more calls. The better players get more calls. That’s the nature of the game. It’s how it works. And it’s completely logical. Better players keep people off balance. Better players attack more. Better players make plays that are too fast and explosive for the defense to stop. Conversely, weaker players need help. They need to use their hands to help their feet. They need to make up for their skill or athletic disadvantage. And the most obvious way they do this is by fouling. Weaker players and weaker teams need help from the refs, and they tend to ask for it. It’s a survival instinct. You want calls? Be the better player. Be the better team. You may not realize it, but when you are constantly whining at the refs, you are actually telling the world you aren’t that good. They are better than you. You need help. I’ve done it before, and when I look back at those moments logically, I’m pretty embarrassed about it. I see a weak player. I can feel the sense of desperation and the survival mechanism that made me beg for something I couldn’t do for myself. If you’re gonna gripe about calls, I want you to at least know what your actually doing and understand what your telling the world. Great players don’t need calls because they have the most control over the outcome of a game.
- Treat Refs Like People: Treat them with the respect they deserve. They are out there working hard and trying to do their best just like you. When you talk to them (If you’re a captain or a good player- you should), it should be a running conversation. Not a running argument. Be cool. Don’t talk to them when you’re emotional. Don’t tell them what they’re missing. Ask them what you could’ve done better or what they saw. Let them coach you for a second. But don’t do it after every play. Do it once or twice a quarter during dead ball time. Be unthreatening. You want everyone in the stands or on the floor to just think it’s two nice guys having a pleasant conversation. Learn their names, smile, and be human. Refs learn numbers of players. Just like coaches, they have favorites. It’s the players who respect them and respect the game. And in turn, they respect those players. If you’re a good player the ref will know your number and be very aware of you when officiating your game. If he respects you, you’ll get more calls.
- Decide How You Will Respond to Calls Before You Play the Game: In this moment as you read this, you aren’t a slave to emotion. You’re thinking logically. Since you’re in this logical state of mind I want you to grab a notebook and a pen. Write down what your best reaction will be to a bad call. You aren’t feeling an emotional response. You’re adrenaline isn’t pumping and you aren’t competing. You are just thinking objectively. What is the best response you can have. What will help your cause. Assuming your cause is playing well and winning a basketball game. Write it down. And commit to taking your logical, objective, optimal response with you into the heat of battle. If you know how you should act going in, you are more likely to own it when it happens.