Basketball Referee

Basketball Referee


20 Years Experience

Chicago, IL

Male, 60

For twenty years I officiated high school, AAU and park district basketball games, retiring recently. For a few officiating is the focus of their occupation, while for most working as an umpire or basketball referee is an avocation. I started ref'ing to earn beer money during college, but it became a great way to stay connected to the best sports game in the universe. As a spinoff, I wrote a sports-thriller novel loosely based on my referee experiences titled, Advantage Disadvantage

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651 Questions


Last Answer on September 20, 2019

Best Rated

What can you do if two of three refes in middle school allow a team to punch players with their fist and rip open a girl players nose with a metal hair bow and so on while not calling it. The whole bench is quiet cause they expell anyone making a sound.

Asked by josh over 11 years ago

Completely unacceptable. If I was the coach I would lodge my complaint with the referees as soon as it started getting rough. If they continued to fail to enforce the legitimate rules of the game I would be compelled to act. I believe that a coach’s first responsibility is the safety of the players, and if I felt that the team’s safety was at risk I would pull my players off the floor and forfeit the match. Then I would write a commentary along with game tape and get the referees bounced (and decertified) for 1) not enforcing the rules of the game and 2) allowing the environment to threaten the safety of the players. It is hard to believe that state certified officials would let this happen - it is also strange to hear about 3 man crews working middle school games. In the conferences I worked, only high school varsity games used 3 ref’s.

What's the worst thing you've seen a player do to earn an ejection?

Asked by Not LeBron about 12 years ago

A player chest bumped my partner and nearly knocked him over. On the way down, he threw the player out.

Did the HS or AAU games you ref'd ever have (legal) betting lines on them in Vegas or the like? And if so, were you trained to look out for point-shaving or other score manipulations?

Asked by aaron5 about 12 years ago

No, I never officiated a game where there was any legal betting.There were anecdotal stories and rumors about betting on high school games, but I don't have first hand knowledge. Here is a story told to me which I have every reason to believe is true, and it also served as the inspiration for my novel's storyline: A ref was called the night before to fill in for a park district game in Chicago. He was going to be paid $100 to be the only official (high game fee should have raised a red flag). He showed up and there were a couple hundred people surrounding the outdoor court in a park. Two huge guys from opposing gangs met the ref at his car and explained that they were there to protect him ("no quips") no matter what his calls were. The pressure level was raised and the ref was worried. As he approached the court, he saw guys as old as 35 in the layup lines, in pro-style uniforms - this was no park district kids league, this was the gang banger's league. He called the coaches and captains together for a quick pre game conference (hoping to preempt problems). While holding the conference one of the "managers" answers his phone an accepts a bet for 10 biscuits. The ref asks him about the bet and learns that a biscuit is $1,000 . The manager brags that he has accepted a lot more than $10,000 on this game. By now the ref was sweating bullets. The ref took off running to the parking lot and jumped in his car while the 2 assigned gangbangers chased after him. He was able to escape.

If a ref gets in the way of play in some meaningful way (e.g. ball bounces off him and rolls out of bounds), is it a jump ball? If not, how is it decided who gets possession?

Asked by da worm about 12 years ago

The ref is part of the floor. If the ball bounces off a ref, it is ruled based on where the ref is standing. If the ref is standing one foot out of bounds and player causes the ball to hit the ref it is ruled out of bounds (even if the ball never crossed the line). Likewise if the ref is legally in bounds and the ball hits him, play on. Think hockey.

How often is the basketball rulebook amended and are you alerted right away when it is?

Asked by The Duke about 12 years ago

The National Federation of High Schools revises the rules annually. The last most significant rule change (in my opinion) was implemented a couple years ago. Before the change, when a player with the ball committed a foul it was an offensive foul. Likewise, before the change, if a player on the offensive team WITHOUT the ball committed a foul it was considered a common foul and if the other team was in the bonus free throws were attempted. When they changed the rule they added a foul type (offensive team foul) and it is penalized like a player control foul - no free throws. Most changes to the rule book are "points of emphasis" or mechanic changes. It seems rough post play and hand-checking are annual points of emphasis. An example of a mechanics change was made several years ago so that the referee reporting a foul now normally stays table-side (near the coaches to explain a call if necessary) while the other officials rotate away. It used to be that in Illinois for example, when you paid your annual state registration dues you received three books: rules, case studies, and mechanics. To cut costs, most officials in Illinois now receive the books every other year. You can go to and see the changes legislated by sport prior to each season.

If given the choice, would you rather ref D1 college ball or NBA?

Asked by micah about 12 years ago

I am a big fan of college basketball. I was really disgusted when D Wade and Bosh and LeBron conspired to rig Miami's team, which circumvented the whole basis for creating competition in the NBA - each team owner acting in their own interest in the market for players. There is a real danger for this precedent - what if in the future a group of free agent all stars decide to play for a team a rack up a record of say, 75 - 7. Who would watch the games? When Jordan had his 2nd run on the Bulls, the stadium often emptied out in the third quarter - just before the fat lady sang. In general I find the NBA, especially in the eastern conference too physical. Although I must admit it is fun to watch the D Rose and the Bulls (I probably like them because they don't have a center-oriented offense. So, I am a bigger fan of the college game because I find it more competitive and more capable of upsets. Having said all of that, the increasing number of players leaving college early hurts the fans ability to follow team progress. In the end, I would rather be associated with the college game.

When a player inbounds from the baseline after the other team scores, he gets lazy and inbounds with a foot over the line. This never gets called. Is it just so immaterial that it's not worth calling?

Asked by steve w about 12 years ago

First, the rule. Your position on the court is based on where you stood (or touched last). So after a rebound a player establishes himself out of bounds (one foot or two), and then lifts a foot through an imaginary plane along the baseline, he is not inbounds until his foot hits the floor inbounds - no violation for breaking the plane by the player throwing in the ball. Secondly, there is the dominent philosophy of basket officating called, "Advantage Disadvantage" which holds that you should only stop the game if an opposing player caused a change in A/D. So, you pass on uncontested palming in the backcourt for example.