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Old Fri Jul 17, 2020, 10:00am
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One Is The Loneliest Number That You'll Ever Do ...

I'm preparing a article on one-person mechanics for a magazine. I would appreciate comments, constructive criticism, suggestions, grammar errors, etc., from Forum members. Thank you.

One Is The Loneliest Number That You'll Ever Do

What does the opening line, “One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do”, from the 1969 hit song “One” by the great American rock band Three Dog Night have to do with officiating a basketball game?

If you officiate basketball long enough the inevitable will occur, you will have to officiate a game by yourself. Partner gets stuck in traffic, or a gets a flat tire on the way to the game. There's a schedule or a communication mix up. Partner twists an ankle in the first minute. All of these, and more, can leave you as a one-person crew. This unfortunate circumstance is never an easy way to officiate a basketball game. With hundreds of ticket buying fans in the stands, a paid table crew, cheerleaders, and two teams of players and coaches (one team that may have traveled many miles by bus), you can’t just simply wave goodbye and turn off the lights as you leave the gymnasium. When you are put in this situation what do you do? The following are some one-person officiating guidelines that you may want to try.

First of all, try to contact your partner and your assignment commissioner. Also, know your state association and your local board policy regarding one-person games. Some state associations will not allow a game to begin with only one official, especially a high school varsity game, leaving you without the choice to officiate the game alone. Some of these states, while not allowing a game to begin with only one official, may allow the game to proceed with only one official if the other official gets injured, or becomes ill, during the game. It is important to note that if no state certified official is available do not accept an offer from a non-state certified coach, fan, or parent, to assist. If you do accept such an offer, liability, insurance, competency, and fairness could be compromised. If your state association and your local board policy allow it officiate the game alone.

Once the decision is made to officiate the game alone bring both head coaches and the game administrator together to explain the situation. Tell them that your partner has not shown, or is injured, or is ill, and that you will be officiating the game alone. Be sure that everyone is in agreement that the game will be played under these circumstances. Set the parameters for the game giving them an idea of what to expect once they agree to play the game with only one official. Be sure to mention that you are going to miss some calls because there will be things that you won’t be able to see. Request the cooperation of the coaches and express appreciation to them for assisting you in keeping themselves, and their players, under control. Tell them that you may even ask them for help on out of bounds calls in front of them. This is a great time to remind them of the importance of good sportsmanship and the example that they should set for their players. Advise the game administrator that the cooperation of spectators will also be expected. Make sure that all your pertinent pay information is submitted to the game administrator. In many areas a game fee for a one-person game may differ from that of a normal game.

In the pregame meeting with the captains and head coaches explain that you will appreciate the cooperation from all players and coaches. Again mention that you are going to miss some calls because there will be things that you won’t be able to see and remind them of the importance of good sportsmanship. Tell them that you may ask players and coaches for help on out of bounds calls. Explain that if you do not know who caused the ball to go out of bounds, and both sides argue that it was off of the other team, then play will be resumed by the team entitled to the alternating possession throwin. Let them know that you expect the players to retrieve all loose balls, including out of bounds balls, and to get the ball to you as soon as possible after the whistle has sounded.

The best floor coverage position from which to work is from free throw line extended to free throw line extended on the side of the court opposite the table. This will always give you a good view of the table, substitutes, coaches, and bench personnel. If you go any deeper than the free throw line extended you will not have any chance to make a call if there is a long pass to the other end of the floor. Avoid getting caught on the endline. As the ball goes toward the opposite sideline you will have to move off the sideline toward the center of the floor. Do not guess on three point shot attempts. If you need help on three point shot attempts get help from the table, or from the coaches. If there’s no agreement on the shot attempt count it as two points.

On out of bounds calls, if you’re not sure who touched the ball last, observe the reaction of the players as their reaction may offer you a clue. If you’re still not sure have players assist you by asking them who touched the ball last. If needed coaches can offer assistance on out of bounds calls on the table side sideline. Any disagreement will result in play being resumed by the team entitled to the alternating possession throwin. After designating the throwin spot move a distance away and bounce the ball to the player for the throwin.

Move toward the mid-court area to report a foul. You don’t have to fully move into the foul reporting area, just be sure to clear the crowd of players to get a good line of sight between you and the table. On free throws get the players set and then administer every free throw from the trail position. Notice the initial placement of the free throw shooter’s feet but then focus attention on the nonshooters, especially when misses, and rebounds, occur.

During timeouts stand on the division line in the jump ball circle with ball on your hip toward the team’s basket which will have control of the ball. After the first horn move to the area on the playing court where play will resume.

In a game you are working by yourself you may need to sound your whistle more often than you might in a game with a normal crew because once the players realize that there is only one official on the court they may try to take advantage of the situation. If you take charge early in the game it will help you to maintain control during the rest of the game.

While the coaches will understand the difficult situation that you have been placed in, they may sometimes forget in the heat of game. Expect that, maintain your composure, remind them of your difficult position, and that you‘re working hard for them, and their players. Coaches must control their emotions. Don’t argue with them, or let them put you in a position where you feel guilty about not being able to see everything. Do the best you can, it’s not your fault that this unfortunate situation exists. Remember that you are the best official on the court.

The famous seventeenth century English poet John Donne once stated, "No man is an island". This means that humans function best when they are not isolated from others. It reflects our dependency on each other in order to thrive. Officiating a basketball game alone will make you appreciate your partner a lot more the next game that you work.

Note: Guidelines from the Connecticut State Board of Approved Basketball Officials (IAABO Board 5), the Greater Sudbury (Ontario, Canada) Board of Basketball Officials (IAABO Board 106), and the Topeka (Kansas) Officials Association were used in researching this article.
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Last edited by BillyMac; Thu Jul 23, 2020 at 05:14pm.
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Old Mon Jul 20, 2020, 02:03pm
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Great article, Billy. I have had a few situations where I started a game alone, and then my partner shows up, it was very disconcerting. I was so into the "solo mode", that it took awhile to adjust - weird!

I would change only one sentence, to make it cleaner:

Once the decision is made to officiate the game alone, bring both head coaches and the game administrator together, to explain the situation.
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Old Mon Jul 20, 2020, 02:39pm
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Editor ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChuckS View Post
I would change only one sentence, to make it cleaner: Once the decision is made to officiate the game alone, bring both head coaches and the game administrator together, to explain the situation.
Will do. Thanks.
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"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

“I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Matthew 25:36)
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Old Wed Jul 22, 2020, 11:27am
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thanks for that!

Mr. Billymac,
Thanks so much for your kind and thoughtful efforts to clarify and instruct us on single-man (person) mechanics. One question I have is: where are you positioned on the FT? and where are you positioned on the sideline throw-in?

@Mr. ChuckS---regarding your experience of starting with one-man and having officiated the game for 2 quarters alone, and gotten used to it, then your partner shows up and it causes you to have to adjust---I guess you'd almost have preferred it to just complete the game alone. But your partner wants to work a game also, so alas.
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Old Wed Jul 22, 2020, 01:42pm
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I'm Not What You Would Call A One-Person Expert ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kansas Ref View Post
Mr. BillyMac ... One question I have is: where are you positioned on the FT? and where are you positioned on the sideline throw-in?
First of all, my father was Mr. BillyMac, I'm just BillyMac.

Secondly, you asked two questions.

Keep in mind that I've probably worked one-person games (that counted) less than a half-dozen times in forty years, so I'm not what you would call a one-person expert.

I decided to write this article after working a one-person freshman game a few years ago, jotting down some notes when I got home after the game (knowing that it wasn't going to be a very "sexy" article, and not being very passionate about the topic, it took me a long time to finally sit down and write it).

I also didn't have to invent the wheel, I had some groundwork laid down by the Connecticut State Board of Approved Basketball Officials, the Greater Sudbury Board of Basketball Officials, and the Topeka Officials Association.

I would handle all free throws from the trail position (one never wants to get caught on the endline). After putting the ball at the disposal of the free throw shooter, I would back off to my normal trail position. It's probably the best view, noting that it will be difficult to see anything other than the backs and butts of the two lane rebounders closest to the endline on your side (opposite table side).

On all throwins (including sideline throwins), I will try to get close to where I want to be after the throwin (free throw line extended to free throw line extended on the side of the court opposite the table) and then long bounce the ball to the inbounder (even if the ball is inbounded from the endline because one never wants to get caught on the endline).

One big decision that I had to make working these one-person games was regarding general floor coverage, to stay on either the table sideline, or the sideline opposite the table.

Some one-person guidelines suggest the table side because one gets the same view as the coaches, possibly leading to fewer "debates" regarding fouls.

I much prefer the opposite table side. This way I always can observe the table, substitutes, coaches, and bench personnel. Also, I can get help on out of bounds calls (and three point shots) on the table sideline from the table, or from the coaches.
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"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

“I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Matthew 25:36)

Last edited by BillyMac; Wed Jul 22, 2020 at 07:06pm.
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Old Wed Jul 22, 2020, 01:53pm
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Jolt To One's System ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChuckS View Post
I have had a few situations where I started a game alone, and then my partner shows up, it was very disconcerting. I was so into the "solo mode", that it took awhile to adjust - weird!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kansas Ref View Post
... experience of starting with one-man and having officiated the game for 2 quarters alone, and gotten used to it, then your partner shows up and it causes you to have to adjust ...
It's physically easy to work from free throw line extended to free throw line extended, and mentally easy to not have to worry about primary coverage areas.

Then all of a sudden one has to run from trail to lead, and lead to trail, and also worry about staying in one's primary (and switching after fouls).

It can be a real jolt to one's system. It takes a few minutes to get used to "normal".

I understand why some associations get a 150% game fee for a one-person game (to discourage athletic directors from requesting only one official for non-varsity games to save money), but while mentally challenging, one-person games can be physically easy, they're definitely not 50% physically harder to officiate.
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"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

“I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Matthew 25:36)

Last edited by BillyMac; Wed Jul 22, 2020 at 02:46pm.
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Old Wed Jul 22, 2020, 02:10pm
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Mister ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kansas Ref View Post
Mr. BillyMac ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by BillyMac View Post
First of all, my father is Mr. BillyMac, I'm just BillyMac.
A few years ago I worked a middle school game with a rookie partner, my partner being the son of a fellow official who lived in my hometown.

My young partner called me Mr. Mac.

I told him that if he ever called me Mr. Mac again that I would smack him in the face.

We've had discussions here on the Forum regarding first names or Mr. last names in dealing with coaches and players, but I'm not allowing my partner to call me Mister.

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"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

“I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Matthew 25:36)
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Old Wed Jul 22, 2020, 02:26pm
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One Hundred Dollar Ceiling Broken In Connecticut ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by BillyMac View Post
... game fee ...
2020-21 game fees have been announced for Connecticut (two-person games):

Varsity Fee: $100.07
Sub Varsity Fee: $64.93 (junior varsity, freshman, middle school)
Scrimmage Fee: $150 (3 officials $50 each, 2 officials $75 each)

Note: By contract, official fees in Connecticut are tied to the average annual increase (or decrease) in state-wide teachers salaries in Connecticut.

Of course that's assuming that there is a 2020-21 basketball season.

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"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

“I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Matthew 25:36)

Last edited by BillyMac; Wed Jul 22, 2020 at 05:04pm.
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Old Wed Jul 22, 2020, 05:12pm
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Enjoy ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by BillyMac View Post
What does the opening line, “One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do”, from the 1969 hit song “One” by the great American rock band Three Dog Night have to do with officiating a basketball game?
For the young'uns:

https://youtu.be/UiKcd7yPLdU
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Old Thu Jul 23, 2020, 03:37pm
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Change "the inevitable will eventually occur" to something not redundant, such as "the inevitable occurs".

Most players are right-handed. Ergo, a huge majority of the game is played on the right side of the court. The lesser the skill, the more that is played on the right side. I spend my one-person running a diagonal path from right side to right side as T initially, settling about the C position. I usually turn one-person games into a workout however, and generally am really covering everywhere in a very athletic way.
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Old Thu Jul 23, 2020, 05:13pm
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Editor ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by bucky View Post
Change "the inevitable will eventually occur" to something not redundant, such as "the inevitable occurs".
Done. Thank you.
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"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

“I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Matthew 25:36)
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Old Thu Jul 23, 2020, 05:24pm
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To Each His Own ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by bucky View Post
Most players are right-handed. Ergo, a huge majority of the game is played on the right side of the court. I spend my one-person running a diagonal path from right side to right side.
I actually tried that in one of my first one-person games. I didn't like crossing the basket-line, and didn't like not having an adult (official, coaches, or table) getting a good look at one quarter of the sidelines. Also didn't like spending half my time with a poor view of the table, substitutes, coaches, and bench personnel.

Your right hand philosophy reminds me of the old "Cadillac Position" of forty years ago where the lead would spend 99% of his (no local female officials back then) time on the right side of the front court.
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"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

“I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Matthew 25:36)

Last edited by BillyMac; Fri Jul 24, 2020 at 10:30am.
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Old Thu Jul 23, 2020, 06:46pm
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Bill Of Rights ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by bucky View Post
Most players are right-handed. Ergo, a huge majority of the game is played on the right side of the court.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BillyMac View Post
I actually tried that in one of my first one-person games. I didn't like crossing the basket-line, and didn't like not having an adult (official, coaches, or table) getting a good look at one quarter of the sidelines. Also didn't like spending half my time with a poor view of the table, substitutes, coaches, and bench personnel.
With the official always being opposite table side, at least the official will spend 50% of the time on the right side, and by the end of the game after the halftime switch it will be 50% right side for both teams.
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“I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Matthew 25:36)
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Old Fri Jul 24, 2020, 02:30am
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Whenever I've worked solo, I paid no attention to table/opposite. I would start a throwin on the side with the ball and I would roam as needed based on the play. I'd go endline if needed. I'd cross over the top if needed to see a far corner play. I think you give up a lot more than you should by staying on one side.
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Old Fri Jul 24, 2020, 08:49am
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Ageless Players ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Camron Rust View Post
Whenever I've worked solo, I paid no attention to table/opposite. I would start a throwin on the side with the ball and I would roam as needed based on the play. I'd go endline if needed. I'd cross over the top if needed to see a far corner play.
Tried that a few times. Eventually settled on crossing the basketline to see far corner plays but always returned to opposite table when possible (like a lead rotating to get a good look at a matchup and then going back in a two-person game). If I couldn't get back due to a quick turnover, I stayed on that side and got back when I could. Also occasionally tried getting down to the endline (big mistake), technically one should physically be able to get from the endline (old lead) position to the (new) trail position, but that's usually in a two-person game where one has a partner to catch stuff at the front of the play.

To each his own. If one has the ability to run like a gazelle and keep up with these athletic young players (who stay the same age every year as we get older), then hey, go for it, it will make for a better officiated game. These guidelines, especially the floor coverage guidelines, are not chiseled in stone.

Note: Sounds like Camron Rust deserves the 150% game fee if it's offered in his area.
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"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

“I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Matthew 25:36)

Last edited by BillyMac; Fri Jul 24, 2020 at 11:04am.
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