When my terrific son was a college student, I suggested he get into sports officiating. You know, to earn some money, stay involved in sports, keep in shape. His response was “No. It’s not worth the hassle.” He didn’t want to subject himself to being criticized, heckled and second-guessed; and I couldn’t blame him.
Which told me then (and I’m reminded often) that sports officials are risk-takers. Men and women willing to step out and step up.
The best officials make the toughest calls at the tightest times in the competition. They’re risk-takers in ways mere spectators are not.
And in this so-called “modern world,” where people can sit comfortably at home and comment irritably on everything, and fans can text, tweet and transmit videos instantly, it has never taken more courage to be a sports official than it does today.
Tomorrow evening, for the 33rd consecutive year, the MHSAA hosts a banquet that honors our most veteran MHSAA registered officials. Officials who have reached the 20-, 30-, 40-, 45- and 50-year service milestones will be recognized; and Rockford’s Lyle Berry will receive the Vern L. Norris Award for a lifetime of grassroots contributions to high school sports officiating in Michigan.
It is one of the rare occasions when we ask officials, referees and judges to step out of the background and into the spotlight. Without any risk.
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 – Over the Back - Listen
Did you know there is no such thing as “over the back” in basketball? If two players are going for a rebound and the player behind another player is able to grab it over the top of the player in front – that’s not necessarily a foul. He or she did not go over the back.
The player behind another player may have committed a foul such as bumping the player in front, or pushing that player – gaining an advantage to grab the rebound – but that would be whistled for a push or grab. Not over the back.
A taller player or player who can jump higher grabbing a rebound is not a foul. It’s only a foul if they create an advantage by pushing, bumping, or any other kind of illegal contact while in the process of going for a rebound. Fans yell over the back all the time, but an official will never call a foul for going over the back.
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 Zone - Listen
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