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Old Thu Aug 03, 2006, 12:57pm
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What Should You Do About Bad Officiating

Seriously Folks,

The officiating where I live has gotten to the point where it's really, really bad. Is there anything a parent/coach can do about it or do we just have to learn to tolerate it?

I know officials are people too, and it's a tough job, but they ARE being paid. We coaches are working for nothing. This past AAU season, it just seemed like the officiating was worse than ever. So far, summer league has been no better.

I'll never forget the game where the one official showed up 30 minutes late. We had scored and the ball was rolling around on the court. So one of our guys picked it up and handed it to their in-bounder. The late official blew his whistle and called us for delay of game. We learned a lesson there, but, I mean, come on, the kid's heart was in the right place. He was just trying to help.

One of my main pet peeves is the refusal of officials to enforce the written rules of the game. I know there's this whole "No harm, no foul" movement, but is it too much too expect officials to enforce the rules as written?

I don't understand why there is any interpretation allowed. It seems like, in any area of life, if you allow individuals to make their own interpretations of rules, all control goes right out the window.

Why, then, do some officials, for example, allow reaches, hand-checks, push-offs, etc. and some not. Why do some call travel on the first step without dribble and others on the second?

Maybe it's not as wide spread everywhere as it is in District 11, but it sure is bad here. Is it because PIAA is not adequately policing and evaluating their officials?

What can coaches, parents, and fans do about it? What is the right approach?
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Old Thu Aug 03, 2006, 01:10pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smurf
Seriously Folks,

Why, then, do some officials, for example, allow reaches?
Talk about setting one up on a tee!

Z
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Old Thu Aug 03, 2006, 01:28pm
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Some also allow over the backs!
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Old Thu Aug 03, 2006, 01:35pm
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smurf,

Examin the situation in detail.
1) 95% of officials can not support themselves financially from officiating alone. Therefore, officiating is a part time hobby/job.
Ex. Players are supported by family or school, they practice daily, yet they still miss easy shots, make dumb passes, etc. Officials, cannot put in that kind of time to synchronize there views and abilities.

2)Officials are un-biased on their calls. You are not un-biased when watching your team. Funny how seldom we get postings saying someone else's team got screwed.

3)Two or Three officials cannot watch 5 match-ups at the same time. Try it yourself. Put ten kids in room, set the clock for 8 minutes, then report everything each kid does (bumps, touches, pushes).

4) In your post you have already been a bad official. You question the idea of allowing interpretation, yet you say "come on, the kids heart was in the right place." You have demonstrated in-consistency.


5) Parents, fans, and coaches need not do anything. Just watch the game, enjoy your teams good play, ignore their bad play and be glad someone officiated the game instead of you.
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Old Thu Aug 03, 2006, 01:36pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smurf
Seriously Folks,

The officiating where I live has gotten to the point where it's really, really bad. Is there anything a parent/coach can do about it or do we just have to learn to tolerate it?

I know officials are people too, and it's a tough job, but they ARE being paid. We coaches are working for nothing. This past AAU season, it just seemed like the officiating was worse than ever. So far, summer league has been no better.

I'll never forget the game where the one official showed up 30 minutes late. We had scored and the ball was rolling around on the court. So one of our guys picked it up and handed it to their in-bounder. The late official blew his whistle and called us for delay of game. We learned a lesson there, but, I mean, come on, the kid's heart was in the right place. He was just trying to help.

One of my main pet peeves is the refusal of officials to enforce the written rules of the game. I know there's this whole "No harm, no foul" movement, but is it too much too expect officials to enforce the rules as written?

I don't understand why there is any interpretation allowed. It seems like, in any area of life, if you allow individuals to make their own interpretations of rules, all control goes right out the window.

Why, then, do some officials, for example, allow reaches, hand-checks, push-offs, etc. and some not. Why do some call travel on the first step without dribble and others on the second?

Maybe it's not as wide spread everywhere as it is in District 11, but it sure is bad here. Is it because PIAA is not adequately policing and evaluating their officials?

What can coaches, parents, and fans do about it? What is the right approach?
Smurf,

I think one of the problems you have is that a lot of the good offiicals may not work summer AAU games for various reasons. Parents, coaches, poor pay and other issues. Most of the time you might just get those officials that are just there to work 6 games in a row for the money. These AAU tourneys usually pay cash on the spot. Like in every vocation there are good ones and bad ones, and sometimes you maybe getting the young kid that is just starting to learn how to officiate.
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Old Thu Aug 03, 2006, 01:45pm
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In the summer you may be getting what we call "warm bodie".. I agree with SAMIAM. Parents will always be biased. We are always fast to post complaints, yet so many times you'll never hear great job. I have been fortuante to have heard it multiple times this summer season. What I ask of the officials I work with is consistency. What you call on one side call on the other. What that means is good communication..
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Old Thu Aug 03, 2006, 01:50pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by REFVA
In the summer you may be getting what we call "warm bodie".. I agree with SAMIAM. Parents will always be biased. We are always fast to post complaints, yet so many times you'll never hear great job. I have been fortuante to have heard it multiple times this summer season. What I ask of the officials I work with is consistency. What you call on one side call on the other. What that means is good communication..

It also may just depend on who is scheduling the officials. I have been at AAU tournaments where the same two guys are working 10 games in a row (warm bodies for sure).
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Old Thu Aug 03, 2006, 02:22pm
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smurf -- prepare yourself for the onslaught of responses that may not be very appealing to you (this forum has not provided much sympathy for previous posters expressing similar thoughts).....

The short answer to your question is that there is not much you can do. A very large percentage of rules are subject to the judgement of the official. Not everything is as black and white as the pages of the rule book. You ask "why is there even any interpretation allowed?" You do realize, of course, that virtually everything in life is open to interpretation, right? For example: was the death a homicide or self-defense?; is it O.K. to run a red light while driving to the hospital because your wife is giving birth in the seat next to you?; or you left the office early without telling your boss because you just learned of a security incident at your childs' school? Those are certainly extreme examples, but they all are violations of some set of rules that would require some punishment by someone. In a basketball game, not all contact is a foul, a travel may not have been called because the defender pushed the ball handler, or a charge may have been called only because it was similar to a play earlier in the game.

Clearly officials make mistakes - whether mechanically, in rules application, or in judgement. Some officials make more mistakes than others. While the expectation is that officials shouldn't make mistakes or make "wrong" calls - I certainly hope you realize that this is an unrealistic expectation. Generally speaking, the quality of officiating usually improves as the level of play/talent level increases (think middle schl, HS, college, NBA, etc).

Another aspect to consider is the professional knowledge that you and other parents (even coaches) posses when judging whether a mistake has been made or not. I would not be able to tell someone with a specifc knowledge base (like an accountant, doctor, etc) he is wrong and have a high degree of accuracy in my assessment. Officials routinely are surprised at the lack of rule knowledge that parents and coaches possess while telling us we're wrong.

Having said all that, if you objectively watch basketball games, it will take you a while to find a game in which the outcome is adversely affected by officiating. It does happen, but an extremely small percentage of the time. Generally speaking, teams and fans focus on a mistake that may have been made instead of their own actions, or lack thereof, that determines the outcome. (By the way - TOO many people pin the blame on others for results that they are not happy with in real life. Parental attitudes towards athletics definitely help foster that mindset in kids.) There are generally lots of missed opportunities by teams during a game that go unscrutinized upon post-game reflection.

Rather than placing blame on others, encourage the players to discover what they could have done differently to achieve a different result. Good players do that. Good officials do that. Successful people do that.
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Old Thu Aug 03, 2006, 02:28pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smurf
Seriously Folks,

The officiating where I live has gotten to the point where it's really, really bad. Is there anything a parent/coach can do about it or do we just have to learn to tolerate it?
First, join your local officials association, become a top referee in said association. Then get elected to head the recruiting and training comittee. Turn the assoiciation around so that its better than most D1 conferences. Then continue posting on here and wait for someoen to complain about the officiating in your area, then suggest them the above. Repeat.
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Old Thu Aug 03, 2006, 02:34pm
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Don't take the suggestions about joining the local officiating association as a joke - this is probably one of the best things you could do! First of all, it will give you insight into officiating - that is NOT just a black and white job. There is an old book titled The Art of Sports Officiating - note that they refer to it as an "art" rather than a "science" - because it is.

It sounds to me that you have a coaches/parents understanding of the game. "Reaches" as others have pointed out are not fouls. You certainly might think that certain things going on in your games are fouls but in actuality, even by the letter of the rule, they aren't. Training to become an official will assist you in a much better understanding of the game.

Further, you might decide that you really enjoy it. There are many top officials today that started because they were frustrated with the officiating they were observing in games!

Good luck!
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Old Thu Aug 03, 2006, 02:53pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smurf
Seriously Folks,

I'll never forget the game where the one official showed up 30 minutes late. We had scored and the ball was rolling around on the court. So one of our guys picked it up and handed it to their in-bounder. The late official blew his whistle and called us for delay of game. We learned a lesson there, but, I mean, come on, the kid's heart was in the right place. He was just trying to help.
Have you ever seen the NCAA Championship games between Georgetown and Villanova? You can also refer to the UNLV and Arkansas Championship teams and even Loyola Marymount (Hank Gathers era).

If you watched any of their games in those seasons, these teams wanted to increase the pace of the game to get their opponents out of their comfort zone where they would make mistakes and give up points as a result. Some of the players would get the ball after the make and pass it to the inbounder, this would start the inbounds count sooner and force the inbounder to make a decision quicker than normal.
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Old Thu Aug 03, 2006, 04:05pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smurf
Seriously Folks,

The officiating where I live has gotten to the point where it's really, really bad. Is there anything a parent/coach can do about it or do we just have to learn to tolerate it?

I know officials are people too, and it's a tough job, but they ARE being paid. We coaches are working for nothing. This past AAU season, it just seemed like the officiating was worse than ever. So far, summer league has been no better.
During the summer and AAU seasons, most officials that normally would work those levels are not working. When you expect officials to work 4 games in a row and pay less than half of what officials would make in a regular season game, you get what you pay for often.

Quote:
Originally Posted by smurf
I'll never forget the game where the one official showed up 30 minutes late. We had scored and the ball was rolling around on the court. So one of our guys picked it up and handed it to their in-bounder. The late official blew his whistle and called us for delay of game. We learned a lesson there, but, I mean, come on, the kid's heart was in the right place. He was just trying to help.
I cannot speak for why an official was late, other than to say that during the summer there are all kinds of scheduling mix ups and conflicts that happen. For all you know this official might not have been the scheduled official on the game. He might have been told to fill in the game at the last minute. As stated before, you get what you pay for.

Quote:
Originally Posted by smurf
One of my main pet peeves is the refusal of officials to enforce the written rules of the game. I know there's this whole "No harm, no foul" movement, but is it too much too expect officials to enforce the rules as written?

I don't understand why there is any interpretation allowed. It seems like, in any area of life, if you allow individuals to make their own interpretations of rules, all control goes right out the window.

Why, then, do some officials, for example, allow reaches, hand-checks, push-offs, etc. and some not. Why do some call travel on the first step without dribble and others on the second?
The fact that you complained about officials not calling a "reach" tells me everything I need to know about you. One thing there is no such thing as a "reach" in the rulebook. There is no such rule or no rule is based on any kind of "reaching" as a foul. Now if you do not know that a "reach" is not an actual foul, then how are you going to be critical of officials not applying the rules properly or to the letter of the rules (your words not mine) and applying their own interpretations?

Quote:
Originally Posted by smurf
Maybe it's not as wide spread everywhere as it is in District 11, but it sure is bad here. Is it because PIAA is not adequately policing and evaluating their officials?

What can coaches, parents, and fans do about it? What is the right approach?
What you could do is either join the officiating ranks or actually pick up a rulebook and casebook and figure out what the rules actually are. Also you need to understand that rules are almost never to be applied in a black and white way. If it were, you would probably be critical that the officials called way too much.

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Old Thu Aug 03, 2006, 05:34pm
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Rut mentioned the pay issue, and that clearly is a large part of it. Clearly the officiating in the summer and most AAU tournaments is worse than it is during the regular season, but that doesn't mean that officiating in general sucks and the first place to look is at those coaches and tournament directors who run the tournaments.

As Rut mentioned, many of the regular officials do not regularly work summer ball games, though some do. In AAU in particular the pay sucks, they play full length games with stop clock and some rule variations, yet they pay the officials no more than 1/2 of a normal game fee. Because the pay sucks, most officials would not be willing to work just 1 or 2 games because financially, it doesn't make sense. Most of the established guys do not want to work 4 or 5 (or in extreme cases 10-12) games in a row because there's no way anyone can maintain the focus and hustle needed to work the games well. So you end up getting guys who are willing to work that many games who are likely less experienced, and by the end of the day, tired. You get what you pay for.

Another aspect, which also goes directly to money, is that the atmosphere in a lot of these games is very unfriendly to officials. In a regular season game, there are rules of conduct that players and coaches must abide by and consequences if they don't (i.e. suspensions, possibility of getting fired). In summer league, there's no accountability because the coaches are paying the tournament director, who will often hang out the officials to dry because the coach is the one generating income, and they can always find another warm body. I've seen some AAU tournaments with "court monitors" (who incidentally have no officiating experience) who coaches can complain to during the game about the officials, and I've heard about officials getting removed during games over some calls and sent home. This sort of atmosphere encourages trouble-makers and discourages quality officials from working these games.

As a result, you get what you pay for, tired officials who are either in it for the money, trying to gain experience to move up and maybe the occasional solid ref. Officiating is a necessary evil of summer ball and viewed only as a fixed cost and not as a part of the game. Colleges in team camps use players to ref and tournament directors find the lowest common denominator, a warm body willing to work long hours for little pay. If you wonder why the officiating sucks and want to complain, tell your coach/tournament director to pony up for officials.
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Old Thu Aug 03, 2006, 07:17pm
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Officiating, like so many aspects of life in our modern world, comes down to who is willing to step up and do it. We can all sit on the sidelines and complain, and that's all that almost every one of us, speaking for society as a whole, does. "Somebody should fix this." "Somebody should be punished for this." Blah, blah, freakin' blah.

You want to change officiating at summer AAU tournaments, grab a whilstle and a striped shirt. Put your knowledge and experience with the game to work to make it better for the kids. If you do, you'll discover a few things pretty quickly:
  1. You're not very good at it. In fact, you suck. It's a hard job that requires quite a bit of time in the saddle to get good at. Too much happens too fast and you don't have time to think about whether to blow the whistle. You have to know what to watch for, and where to watch for it, before it happens. Then you have to let instinct put air in the whistle for you. Oh, and then, once you've blown the whistle and everybody is staring at you, you gotta know what to do next. Some fun, eh?
  2. Everybody hates you all the time. Okay, that's an exageration. But you'll quickly discover that from your vantage point you can see stuff that the jackass in the third row (which incidently is where you used to sit) can't see. Or won't see. Or couldn't care less about because all he really wants is a cheap and easy break for his kid. And that jackass has no qualms about questioning your judgement, intelligence, geneology, blood alcohol level, eyesight, competence or anything else he's "clever" enough to come up with to try and influence you.
  3. The rules of basketball are NOT what you think they are. Sure, everybody played ball as a kid and everybody knows the rules. Sorry, wrong! Coaches, players, fans don't know they rules. Honestly, try it out and see if I'm wrong.
  4. You're going to need to put in some serious time, and get some qualified help, to get good. And, by the way, that serious time I mentioned, happens at summer AAU ball. It's where officials go to get practice, and this may shock and offend you, because the games don't matter and it doesn't matter if you screw up. Every coach, player, and referee there is there for one, and only one reason, to screw up as much as possible and then to learn from it. Those that do learn, move up. Those that don't, stay right there. Blaming the refs is a clear indication of an inability or unwillingness to learn.
  5. As you get better, you'll get better opportunities. As you get better opportunities, and get established as an official in your area, you'll get even more and better opportunities. Eventually you'll want to give up working summer ball. And that's okay. Leave it for the new guys to practice on.
Bottom line, if you really want to make the officiating better, then grab a whistle and go do it better than the guys you've been getting! But be prepared for a few uncomfortable surprises along the way. Let us know how it goes; we really will be willing to help you.
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Old Thu Aug 03, 2006, 09:46pm
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You're going to have to give examples here of this so-called "bad" officiating. The only examples I see are the guy being late and a delay of game call (that while I need more information to make a determination, doesn't sound like it was horribly wrong). As far as the guy being late, are you SURE it wasn't someone who was called at the last minute? Was this an early game where the assignor may have told the league that he couldn't guarantee someone would be there on time due to travel and/or work schedules? I'm not saying its a good practice to be late, but unless you know all the facts, you need to reserve judgment.

When we hear things like officials not "enforce(ing) the written rules of the game," what we are really hearing is "I wanted them to call more fouls/violations on the other team and fewer on my team." Again, without examples, its hard to take this rant seriously.

So, you want to know what you can do to correct it? Easy: grab a whistle and striped shirt and show everyone how things should be done.
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