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

Ever get into a physical altercation with a crazed parent?

Asked by slowgrind about 12 years ago

Parents are the problem with youth sports. I have had more parents removed from games than players and coaches combined. Here's an irony: freshman games are harder to call than varsity, because unless you want to ruin the game completely in underclass games you are deciding when not to blow the whistle. in varsity games you call mostly what you see. Yet, as you progress and hone the referee craft you work less underclass games. So inevitably in a blowout freshman game a player is mildy fouled while dribbling going east and west near the half court line. The dribbler maintains control of the ball, but you are trying to keep the game moving. The freshman's father stands up screaming for a foul, because he wants his 3rd string kid to shoot a free throw to get it on tape and in the record book. There is a learning curve for fans as well - varsity parents are generally better. One of my peers was once attacked at halftime by a freshman player's grandfather.

Do you think the basketball nets should be lower for girls? The ball is smaller b/c they have smaller hands, why shouldn't the net be lower to compensate for them being shorter and not able to jump as high as men?

Asked by NBJay about 12 years ago

In high school ball (and even college) the girls game is played below the rim. So, there is generally more passing and bombing away compared to the boy's game. Having said that, there is an unmistakable trend in the girl's game where the guards can handle the ball and are skilled enough to penetrate the lane and dish. In my view, the most boring basketball (boys, girls, mens or women) is when they dump the ball into the post and watch a turnaround jump shot by tall players. If you lower the girl's rim (ring as the rule book calls it), I'm afraid you will encourage more rough post play. Just my opinion though, because there are plenty of people who loved watching Shaq play.

Assuming no traveling, is it legal for a player to jump off the back of another to dunk in a game? Like if one player crouches down and the other springboards off his back?

Asked by mugsy about 12 years ago

It is absolutely not a legal play to use a teammate or an opponent to leverage a jump. By the way, a couple years ago players started showing up with shoes that had built-in springs in the heels - also illegal.

Has anyone ever attempted to bribe you in any way?

Asked by skyhook about 12 years ago

No one has ever offered me a bribe. Darn!

How far can a player go in arguing a call before you'll give him a technical?

Asked by moris about 12 years ago

I have thick skin, and in twenty years I have tossed maybe 2 players (more coaches for sure!). I have always looked at like this: If a player disagrees and argues with a call I will not T him up, especially if the player approaches with respect. And I will always explain my call even if I have booted it. What can never be tolerated is any personal attack, which usually is designed to intimidate the ref. More than anything a player's actions after a close call does determine how you view the player on the next one (we are just human). The tougher situation when you have to be calm is when a player deliberately acts to show you up - some refs automatically T a player, but I feel like that is putting your ego in front of the game.

If you're 100% unsure of whether a guy was behind the 3-pt line when he took the shot (and it goes in), how do you decide the call?

Asked by Harry Legend about 12 years ago

In a three man crew, usually the Center official and the Trail official will both see it. One of them has primary coverage and has to make the initial call. The other can come in and discuss if they see it a different way, but someone has to make the initial call, and in a normal set the on-ball ref should be able to see the line and the feet. In general, I try not to call something I did not see, but 2 or 3 point shots force you to call - a no call 3 is a defacto 2. I suppose if you struggle to know and it is your call, you should call a 2, then conference with your partners to see if they can offer you better guidence.

Why isn't a dunk considered offensive goaltending? Do you think it's for legitimate reasons, or because dunks are so crucial to TV ratings (kinda like fighting in hockey)?

Asked by El Sid about 12 years ago

Offensive goaltending is the act of interfering with the ball in its downward arc toward the basket or interfering with the ball while it is in an imaginary cylinder above the rim. When I was in high school college and HS players were not allowed to dunk. I think that the rule makers have decided that it is an exciting play for fans, and it does not happen in excess in games. The tough call is when the ball bounces on the rim and a player slams it in. Did the player touch the ball while it was inside that cylinder?