Official Treatment

March 7, 2014

A book I quoted in this space three times last November – How: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything by Dov Seidman – has me thinking about sports officiating.

One premise of the book is that the Internet era has made the world so transparent and connected that there is no such thing anymore as “private” behavior or a “minor” mistake. Everything can become a public matter – instantly. Anything can become a major problem – overnight. Worldwide.

So, when our local real estate agent, who officiates junior varsity basketball, misses a call that an invested spectator captures with his or her smart phone camera, and sends to his or her relatives and a local media outlet that night, there is no limit to where that video could appear by the next morning.

And while major college and professional officials may now receive four-figure fees to work under those conditions, officials at the junior high/middle school and high school levels – sometimes working for little more than gas money - wonder if it’s worth the hassle. 

There are many obstacles to recruiting and retaining officials for school sports, including poor business practices by assigners and bad sportsmanship by coaches and spectators; but a significant factor not to be overlooked is the adverse potential of immediate worldwide criticism for a call that had to be made in the blink of an eye.

The human factor of sports is now subject to inhuman expectations. In an enterprise that strives for fairness, it appears that it’s the official who is being treated least fairly.

Be the Referee: Softball Interference

By Paige Winne
MHSAA Marketing & Social Media Coordinator

June 6, 2023

Be The Referee is a series of short messages designed to help educate people on the rules of different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

Below is this week's segment – Softball Interference - Listen

We’re on the softball diamond today for a “You Make the Call.”

Runners are on the corners with no outs. The batter hits the first pitch in the air and into foul territory near the first-base line.

The runner on first interferes with the first basewoman attempting to make the catch, and the ball falls to the ground.

What’s the call?

  • Is it the runner on first and the batter are out?
  • The batter is out and the runner stays at first?
  • Or the ball is dead immediately, the runner on first is out and the batter is charged with a foul ball?

If you said the ball is dead immediately when the interference takes place and that the runner is out, with the batter returning to the batter’s box with a one-strike count … you made the right call!

Previous Editions:

May 30: Officials Registration - Listen
May 23: Soccer Offsides or Goal? -
May 16: Track & Field Exchange Zones - Listen
May 9: Girls Lacrosse Self-Start - Listen
May 2: Baseball/Softball Overthrow - Listen
April 25: Fifth-Quarter/Third-Half Rule - Listen
April 18: Soccer Referee in Play? - Listen
April 11: Softball Strikeout - Listen
March 14: Basketball Instant Replay - Listen
March 7: Hockey Overtime - Listen
Feb. 28: Baker Bowling - Listen
Feb. 21: Ski Finish - Listen
Feb. 14: Swimming Touchpads - Listen
Feb. 7: In or Out-of-Bounds in Wrestling - Listen
Jan. 31: Over the Back - Listen
Jan. 24: Competitive Cheer Judges - Listen
Jan. 17: More Lines - Listen
Jan. 10: On the Line - Listen
Jan. 3: Basketball Measurements - Listen
Dec. 13: Pregame Dunks - Listen
Dec. 6: Gymnastics Judges - Listen
Nov. 22: Football Finals Replay - Listen
Nov. 15: Back Row Illegal Blocker - Listen
Nov. 8: Swim Turn Judges - Listen
Nov. 1: Soccer Referee Jersey Colors - Listen
Oct. 25: Cross Country Tie-Breaker - Listen
Oct. 18: Soccer Shootouts - Listen
Oct. 11: Safety in End ZoneListen
Oct. 4: Football Overtime Penalty - Listen
Sept. 27: Kickoff Goal - Listen
Sept. 20: Soccer Timing - Listen
Sept. 13: Volleyball Replays - Listen
Sept. 6: Switching Sides - Listen
Aug. 30: Play Clock - Listen
Aug. 23: Intentional Grounding Change
- Listen

PHOTO by Gary Shook.