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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564 Questions


Last Answer on June 23, 2017

Best Rated

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

Asked by The Duke about 5 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.

Do you get the sense that teenage players are already focusing more on highlight-reel type stuff as opposed to fundamentals?

Asked by Former coach about 5 years ago

In most high schools (at least around Chicago) the coaches usually will not put up with such selfish play....BUT in AAU ball, where a lot of college recruiters have to go to get talent, the desire for the highlight reel is rampant and lessens the game. At the very elite level AAU players are better developed through rigorous training and coaching, but the street agent and coach-controlled hold on middle to upper players is horrible. Some AAU coaches encourage showboating because it is flashy and might increase the recruiting clout that they show, but it usually does not win games. It is a real dilemma.

Has a player or coach ever accused you or a colleague of making racially-motivated calls?

Asked by Geoff about 5 years ago

Yes, a coach once said, "you wouldn't let it get so rough if the player wasn't black". I immediately blew my whistle and told the coach he was out of bounds. If he wants to say that it is getting rough in there, then say so. But to suggest that it is rough because the post player was black was an attack on my integrity. I gave him a chance to rescind his comment (remember, I rarely use technical fouls), and he immediately agreed that it was inappropriate and inaccurate - he apologized. More often in my experience there has been racial trash talk between players which must be immediately penalized. A few years ago a school's student body was taunting a black player with a racial chant. The referees failed to stop the game, warn the crowd, and if necessary start having them removed. The refs were sanctioned for lack of action.

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 5 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 many free throws for calling 2 Technical fouls(consecutively) on the Head Coach for arguing? Head Coach is ejected on 2nd Technical foul.

Asked by over 4 years ago

In National Federation High School rules each technical is awarded 2 free throws, except if there are off-setting technicals on both teams. Remember a coach can be tossed on 1 technical for a flagrant behavior, for two direct technicals or 3 indirect/directs. In your question the team would be awarded 4 free throws plus the ball.

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 5 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.

Is it me, or does it seem like it's REALLY hard to get the charge call while on defense? I have no stats obviously, but it seems like the guy trying to take the charge gets it WAY too rarely. And this happens at all skill levels...

Asked by Lebron who? almost 5 years ago

It is hard to get a charge because to play proper defense in order to get a charge is hard work. Remember, the defender must establish his position BEFORE the offensive player leaves his feet. And to further complicate things, the defender can be moving while taking a charge if the defender moves "obliquely" after establishing a position. Here's my opinion: the best referees get the block/charge correct most often because they "referee the defense". That means, for example, if you are the lead referee under the basket and a player begins to drive, shift your eyes immediately to watch the defender. By following the defender, you will know whether he got there in time. Refereeing the defense is hard to do because we always watch the offense (on TV and at games). Next time you watch a game, see if you can pick up the off-ball officials not looking at the offense. If they are looking away from the ball, they are probably good officials and they are "refereeing the defense".