I have refereed basketball for 30-plus years. During that time I have got quite a few of my calls correct, but I will admit that I have probably missed more than my share as well. At least I have if you listen to the coaches and fans.
Last week, however, I readily admit to missing a call. What’s more, I intentionally made a call that was unwarranted.
But, I would do it again if needed.
I was refereeing a kid’s game in a church league. My best guess is that they were 8 and 9-year-olds.
The team that was winning by a substantial margin late in the game had a special needs child playing. The coach of that team was trying his best to get this young boy an opportunity to score a basket, but to now avail.
The team they were playing, though behind by 20 points, seemed to take delight in guarding this particular player so he could not even touch the ball. Finally, late in the game, he caught a pass and was fouled. The foul was legitimate. The problem was that he was not shooting the ball. As I debated what to do, my partner beat me to it and put the kid on the line to shoot two foul shots.
In a sense I was relieved. I really didn’t want to have to “make up” a call. The young boy missed his first foul shot and it was not even close. The second shot almost went in, but missed. Here was my dilemma. I knew he would probably not get another shot before the game ended, so I “made up” a lane violation that did not exist and gave him one more chance. The ball hit the rim, bounced high and dropped through. He scored.
As an official I take my role seriously. I would never intentionally make a wrong call that would impact the outcome of a game. This call added one point to a team that had the game well in hand.
But, after seeing the look on that youngster’s face and the excitement he showed, I knew that my wrong call, at least this time, was indeed the right call.