Worst Ref Stories

Heinie Wagner

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Nov 14, 2001
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Simsbury, CT
The other factor in AAU ball for the average kid (not the superstars) is the side-by-side games (so that they can get more games in simulataneously); many games are not played in safe conditions for both player and fan.
Agreed. It's all about the tournament making more $$$, if you can fit two courts where there should only be one, more games = more $$$.

AAU should have/enforce some standards for court sizes, lines and space between courts/walls, space for spectators etc. But I can see how this is difficult to do and AAU doesn't seem like they have much infrastructure to do this.

It's too bad there isn't someplace online to look at for feedback/reviews on every AAU club and every AAU tournament and every court used by AAU tournament organizers.
 

bsj

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Dec 6, 2003
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I had the worst ref ever this week. My team entered the 4th down 4. On 3 consecutive possessions he missed glaring fouls on the same kid. On one, he was sandwiched by two kids that hit him on a shot from different sides. On the last, my player came out of the game bleeding he was hit so hard on a shot. Then the same ref, after the game slipped to double digits in the final minute, ended the game early because he didnt like we were fouling when trying to steal the ball. "I dont want them hurting each other".

They were 100% not violent fouls. In fact, I dont even tell them to foul because they you get shoves and possible injuries. I teach them how to try to steal and it is all about the arms and facing the opponent. Worst case is simple fouls, we were going to take one more shot at a missed FT on a one and one and maybe a 3. If we didnt have a perfect storm of events in the next 5 seconds I was gonna call it all off. He decided for me. SMH
 

Doug Beerabelli

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A question - to what extend is there a reasonable expectation that basketball refs should be good at their jobs? The answer depends upon lots of factors (level (HS varsity vs. rec league), experience, etc. Is there any training requirements for scholastics level stuff? Our local HS rec league has adults reffing, and its just baaaaaaaad. My son's 7-8 grade rec league games are ref'd by the town's varsity HS players (boys and girls), and they do about as decent a job as you could expect.

I know the NBA guys look bad sometimes, and some of them all the time, so perhaps it's just the nature of the game.
 

Heinie Wagner

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Nov 14, 2001
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Simsbury, CT
I refereed youth rec games when I was in Middle School through HS as a volunteer. I cared a lot more than most of the adults I see now getting paid to officiate games and I did a much better job because of that. Don't get me wrong, there are adults who get paid and do a great job, they're just in the minority.

The IAABO patch https://www.iaabo.org/ shows that they are certified but that's no guarantee of quality.

It's not that difficult to referee rec/travel games 4-8. IF you start the game by blowing the whistle and calling some fouls and violations. It's when referees try to get by calling as little as possible that it almost always escalates.

I'm currently coaching 5th grade (4th kid) We get lots of guys who just call out of bounds and shooting fouls and the games become more wrestling match than basketball. We also had one game where they called 32 fouls on the other team. Part of the problem is that a lot of coaches have no idea what NFHS rules especially around illegal contact on the ball handler, so they don't teach good legal defense.

It's an awful cycle because then the referees don't enforce the rules to make the coaches teach the right way. A lot of time, the most successful teams in 4th-5th-6th grade are the teams that foul the most (and usually don't have it called). That's not a good prescription for long term success though.

The best way to look at it is to teach the players to control what they can control and not worry about the stuff they can't. It's frustrating but in the end a very important life lesson.
 

Humphrey

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Aug 3, 2010
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Coached/watched my daughter 8-9 years (it went fast) ago in an in-town program. My lasting memory of officiating (by high school basketball players that should have known better) was watching kids on some teams try to set a pick and have the "pick" look like tiny Joe Thuney's set up to block an onrushing defensive lineman. Or, in some cases, act like a pulling guard. And, in the spirit of the level of competition, I would speak to the officials and tell them in so many words, "you don't have to call a foul, just tell the kids they can't set a pick like that". Didn't help.
 

Humphrey

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Aug 3, 2010
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I guess that's better than in soccer, where the rule book states you can eject a player for punching another player....and specifies it doesn't matter if the other player is an opponent or a teammate!
 

swiftaw

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Jan 31, 2009
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I guess that's better than in soccer, where the rule book states you can eject a player for punching another player....and specifies it doesn't matter if the other player is an opponent or a teammate!
See Lee Bowyer, Kieran Dyer, Newcastle
 

Omar's Wacky Neighbor

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I guess that's better than in soccer, where the rule book states you can eject a player for punching another player....and specifies it doesn't matter if the other player is an opponent or a teammate!
That was covered in my Grade 8 class and subsequent recert classes. I've proctored a number of Grade 9 classes, can't recall if it was covered there as well.
 

Bleedred

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Feb 21, 2001
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It's not that difficult to referee rec/travel games 4-8. IF you start the game by blowing the whistle and calling some fouls and violations. It's when referees try to get by calling as little as possible that it almost always escalates.
I think that this is the key to being a good official, at any level below college. My son is a Junior in HS and it drives me crazy how much the officials allow the primary defender of the point-guard to hand check without any calls. The problem seems to be that the officials feel like calling hand checks will cause them to make 15 calls. What they should do IMO is call the first hand checks early in the game and let the point guards and the coaches know that they are going to call those fouls, so keep your hands off the dribbler. This becomes particularly important in HS games when games are tight and a team is trying to pressure the ball. If that pressure is permitted and the defender has his hands all over the player, then not making those calls can determine the outcome of games. As Heinie notes, it reinforces terrible defensive principles for the youth level as well.
 

Cumberland Blues

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Sep 9, 2001
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I'll second Bleedred's endorsement of the bolded above. My son is in middle school - and the reffing is as wildly inconsistent as the quality of play. The games with refs that "let them play" almost invariably end up with some 4th quarter pushing & shoving and flagrant foul calls. The refs who blow the whistle early establish control of the game - and while nobody really wants to watch a bunch of 13-14yr olds clang free throws off the rim, it's better than watching them try to elbow eachother's teeth out.
 

Heinie Wagner

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Nov 14, 2001
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Simsbury, CT
I think that this is the key to being a good official, at any level below college. My son is a Junior in HS and it drives me crazy how much the officials allow the primary defender of the point-guard to hand check without any calls. The problem seems to be that the officials feel like calling hand checks will cause them to make 15 calls. What they should do IMO is call the first hand checks early in the game and let the point guards and the coaches know that they are going to call those fouls, so keep your hands off the dribbler. This becomes particularly important in HS games when games are tight and a team is trying to pressure the ball. If that pressure is permitted and the defender has his hands all over the player, then not making those calls can determine the outcome of games. As Heinie notes, it reinforces terrible defensive principles for the youth level as well.
Exactly! And it ALWAYS escalates and then the offensive pushes off a bit to equalize the advantage the defense is getting and now the referees are making up their own rules instead of enforcing rules as written. Credit the NFHS for making these rules and making them points of emphasis a few years ago. They should make them points of emphasis again.

And don't even get me started on intentional fouls at the end of games. I saw a defender in a JV game last night put two hands on an opponent's back and shove him to the ground and have it called a one and one?!?!?! Less than a minute left. The rulebook (or maybe casebook) literally says the officials must have the courage to call those sorts of fouls intentional.
 

section15

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Mar 23, 2007
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Bradford, MA and section 15
I was a season ticket holder at the Celtics games from 1973 until 1991, and gave them up (high price, Larry Bird was on the roster but his playing days were done) .... but I can recall numerous situations that occurred, which prompted me to yell "hey ref, are you goin' for the Sol Levy*** award?" And this was BEFORE Tim Donaghy.


Sol Levy = refereed games in the early 50s NBA. Was dismissed in 1953 when it was learned he took allegedly took bribes to affect the outcome of three games. (from 24 Seconds to Shoot - Leonard Koppett - 1970). Convicted, went to jail, was released on a technicality.

More on it here http://www.espn.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/3690/when-an-nba-referee-was-convicted-of-shaving-points
 

section15

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Mar 23, 2007
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Bradford, MA and section 15
The one hoops ref moment I'll always remember is seeing a jump ball called when two players tied up a loose ball with equal possession. Yup, both players were on the same team.
I once saw an NBA game - where the Celtics had a call go in their favor, and a ref decided to "even 'em up". So on the next sequence he blows the whistle "Three Seconds".

Heinsohn goes ballistic. He goes over to the scorer's table. He wants to see the game log....it was something like this =

10:03 = Boston gets possession on out of bounds call.
10:01 = Boston, three second violation.

Do you see what is wrong here? For the record, the ref reversed his call.
 

BJBossman

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Dec 6, 2016
195
I refereed youth rec games when I was in Middle School through HS as a volunteer. I cared a lot more than most of the adults I see now getting paid to officiate games and I did a much better job because of that. Don't get me wrong, there are adults who get paid and do a great job, they're just in the minority.

The IAABO patch https://www.iaabo.org/ shows that they are certified but that's no guarantee of quality.

It's not that difficult to referee rec/travel games 4-8. IF you start the game by blowing the whistle and calling some fouls and violations. It's when referees try to get by calling as little as possible that it almost always escalates.


I'm currently coaching 5th grade (4th kid) We get lots of guys who just call out of bounds and shooting fouls and the games become more wrestling match than basketball. We also had one game where they called 32 fouls on the other team. Part of the problem is that a lot of coaches have no idea what NFHS rules especially around illegal contact on the ball handler, so they don't teach good legal defense.

It's an awful cycle because then the referees don't enforce the rules to make the coaches teach the right way. A lot of time, the most successful teams in 4th-5th-6th grade are the teams that foul the most (and usually don't have it called). That's not a good prescription for long term success though.

The best way to look at it is to teach the players to control what they can control and not worry about the stuff they can't. It's frustrating but in the end a very important life lesson.
Interesting. I try to do this, and it does avoid problems between the teams.

But I definitely hear a lot of stuff that I'm "calling too much."

And PREACH brother on the paragraph below that. They don't know the points of emphasis (such as 2 hands on a ball handler is basically an automatic foul) and think that you can run into a player with your hands in the air because they're "straight up." It's beyond frustrating at times.

Christ, some don't realize that you are allowed to jump and maintain verticality.
 

BJBossman

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Dec 6, 2016
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I once saw an NBA game - where the Celtics had a call go in their favor, and a ref decided to "even 'em up". So on the next sequence he blows the whistle "Three Seconds".

Heinsohn goes ballistic. He goes over to the scorer's table. He wants to see the game log....it was something like this =

10:03 = Boston gets possession on out of bounds call.
10:01 = Boston, three second violation.

Do you see what is wrong here? For the record, the ref reversed his call.
they did something similar in game 7 of the 2010 finals. And didn't reverse it.

Although I think it was more like 8 seconds later.
 

BJBossman

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Dec 6, 2016
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I disagree about it being about the money. Do you officiate a game differently based on how much you're getting paid? I think a lot of other factors come into play. They know how much they're getting when they agree to do the game. Most guys who officiate basketball take pride in doing a good job, if they agree to do the game, they're going to do a good job. I think the guys who don't take pride in doing a good job probably don't take pride in doing a good job in many other things either.

In case I haven't said it before, most of the guys who do our games do a good job, we use board certified officials with very few exceptions. I'm talking travel level 5th-8th grades. Like many things, it's the bad apples that make the strongest impression. You get a well officiated game and you don't remember the officials at all unless there was some unusual event in the game that they handled well.

Interesting what you say about coming out at halftime rather than the beginning of the game. What I mean in particular about early calls are the guys who don't enforce things like arm bars or two hands on the ball handler. Then the level of contact in the game escalates and escalates.

Like I said, most guys do a good job, but sometimes some guys think they can decide which rules to enforce or not when some rules are written particularly to avoid discretion. This is especially frustrating when you coach to the rules - no arm bars, no hands on the ball handler, elbows down etc and you play an opponent who not only clearly isn't coached in that manner but also takes advantage of whatever leeway the referees will give them - AAU basketball is the worst for this.

Adding to the frustration is when you get a guy who says stuff like "if I call everything, it will be a 3 hour game." Calling 10-15 more fouls in a game makes a HUGE difference in the way the game is played and isn't going to extend the game by an hour.
I had a 6th grade girls travel game a few years ago where my partner and I called something in the neighborhood of 62 fouls.

I think the game took 2.5 hours. The coaches of the next game asked if we started late. lol.

I'm fine with it. I think #1 has to be player safety. Calling a tight game significantly reduces the risk of anything bad happening.

BTW, I think the other posters comment about the money was more that $100 per game, you'll have more guys willing to take the work cause that's varsity official money here in CT. But in a few cases it's just the referees the guy doing the booking knows, or his friends who played basketball in hs.
 

BJBossman

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Dec 6, 2016
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Was he a board certified guy?

AAU refs are incredibly frustrating around here (CT), most are not board certified and they might be doing 4-5 games in a row, they just don't care about anything as much as getting the games in on time AND they can pretty much give you a T for anything they want with no accountability. Sucks for your kids and especially that one kid that you had to have that happen.

From my experience 6th grade AAU games are allowed to be more physical than High School varsity games, which is ridiculous.

The guys running the tournament probably wouldn't care if you complained about the ref, if you even got his name. About the only thing you can do is avoid that tournament in the future and look for tournaments that say that use board. There are some tournaments that get really good officials and "only" have then do 2-3 games in a row.
Are you kidding? The guys running the tournament are ENCOURAGING it.

I ref AAU ball in CT. I've been yelled at multiple times for my games taking too long (because we're actually calling fouls).
 

ConigliarosPotential

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So, I'm going to turn the tables on the premise of this thread and ask what you would have done as a referee in this situation. My son plays for the second team of a well organized and pretty seious youth soccer club in Scotland, and from time to time, I get asked to referee friendly matches the club is playing - usually my son's matches, occasionally the first team's matches. I'm a Scottish Football Association-qualified referee, and I know I do a good job, particularly relative to many of the other refs I've seen at this level of football. I'm also not a homer at all - I will call everything right down the middle, and I usually feel better when I call fouls and offside decisions (no linesmen!) against my son's team, rather than in his favor.

Anyway, my son was involved in a preseason friendly match tonight which was getting pretty intense late in the second half, and his club was trailing 2-1 going into the final minute when they bring the ball into the opposition's penalty box...and there's a clear foul, and I blow the whistle for a penalty. I didn't like doing that, but it was a clear penalty - no regrets at all with that. Everyone takes their places for the penalty, and the taker runs up to the spot...and the keeper moves a good two or three steps forward off his line and then saves the penalty. What should I have done: blown the whistle and ordered that the penalty be retaken, or let play continue?
 

BroodsSexton

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So, I'm going to turn the tables on the premise of this thread and ask what you would have done as a referee in this situation. My son plays for the second team of a well organized and pretty seious youth soccer club in Scotland, and from time to time, I get asked to referee friendly matches the club is playing - usually my son's matches, occasionally the first team's matches. I'm a Scottish Football Association-qualified referee, and I know I do a good job, particularly relative to many of the other refs I've seen at this level of football. I'm also not a homer at all - I will call everything right down the middle, and I usually feel better when I call fouls and offside decisions (no linesmen!) against my son's team, rather than in his favor.

Anyway, my son was involved in a preseason friendly match tonight which was getting pretty intense late in the second half, and his club was trailing 2-1 going into the final minute when they bring the ball into the opposition's penalty box...and there's a clear foul, and I blow the whistle for a penalty. I didn't like doing that, but it was a clear penalty - no regrets at all with that. Everyone takes their places for the penalty, and the taker runs up to the spot...and the keeper moves a good two or three steps forward off his line and then saves the penalty. What should I have done: blown the whistle and ordered that the penalty be retaken, or let play continue?
Declined to referee your son's game. ;)
 

robssecondjob

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I have had the "pleasure" of doing league matches with one of my boys on the pitch. Only in emergency situations though.

Whistle and retake. If not a friendly, a caution to the keeper as well.
 

DrewDawg

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Everyone takes their places for the penalty, and the taker runs up to the spot...and the keeper moves a good two or three steps forward off his line and then saves the penalty. What should I have done: blown the whistle and ordered that the penalty be retaken, or let play continue?
Why wouldn't you have blown it dead?
 

ConigliarosPotential

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Why wouldn't you have blown it dead?
Because it was a friendly, and in the past it's been very rare for referees to ever whistle a keeper for advancing from the line on a penalty kick, and I didn't want to make myself the center of attention...and if I were whistling either team for this, I'd rather it have gone against my son's team than for it. But in the split-second I had to make my decision, I did remember how persnickety the referees were at the Women's World Cup about this - several penalties had to be retaken, and this seems so far to be a point of emphasis under the new rules - so yes, I did blow my whistle and order a retake, which was duly scored. (To their credit, the other team's coaches were very magnanimous about it; to their discredit, a couple of the other team's supporters very much were not, although if they took the long view, they'd hopefully appreciate that the keeper has learned the rule now and almost certainly won't forget it, and in a friendly rather than a league match which "matters", to the extent that 11-12 year-olds play meaningful matches in the first place.)
 

EvilEmpire

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Because it was a friendly, and in the past it's been very rare for referees to ever whistle a keeper for advancing from the line on a penalty kick,
But in the split-second I had to make my decision, I did remember how persnickety the referees were at the Women's World Cup about this - several penalties had to be retaken, and this seems so far to be a point of emphasis under the new rules - so yes, I did blow my whistle and order a retake,
Honestly, this sounds a little weird to me. If it is something that is rarely enforced in this league, a league for 11-12 year-olds, and a friendly, it seems like letting it go wouldn't be a big deal, especially when your kid is on the other team. The fact that it was a point of emphasis in the WWC and that having more bearing on your decision-making than league norms and the situation is odd.

Unless you mean it was a point of emphasis for this league that just hadn't been enforced. That would make more sense.
 

BroodsSexton

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Well, you can’t go wrong calling it correctly according to the rules. But given the circumstances, and the fact that the kid made the save, I also wouldn’t have thought ill of you just taking the keeper aside after the game to let him know what happened, and that in a league game it probably gets called.
 

ConigliarosPotential

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Honestly, this sounds a little weird to me. If it is something that is rarely enforced in this league, a league for 11-12 year-olds, and a friendly, it seems like letting it go wouldn't be a big deal, especially when your kid is on the other team. The fact that it was a point of emphasis in the WWC and that having more bearing on your decision-making than league norms and the situation is odd.

Unless you mean it was a point of emphasis for this league that just hadn't been enforced. That would make more sense.
FWIW, the latter isn't an issue - I'm not a referee for this league as such. I just help out when they're short a referee for friendlies. (And I've quickly developed a reputation as a good and impartial referee, I think, so they're happy to keep asking me.) I had literally one second to decide whether or not to blow the whistle, from when the keeper stepped off his line to when he saved the penalty, and those were the thoughts which rapidly went through my head.

Anyway, I do think I did the right thing, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone in the Sons of Charlie Nicholas forum has already written me up in their "Worst Ref Stories" thread...
 

BJBossman

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Dec 6, 2016
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Well, you can’t go wrong calling it correctly according to the rules. But given the circumstances, and the fact that the kid made the save, I also wouldn’t have thought ill of you just taking the keeper aside after the game to let him know what happened, and that in a league game it probably gets called.
This. So much this.

You call it by the book, no one has any right to complain.

But the adults will anyway.
 

Omar's Wacky Neighbor

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Well, you can’t go wrong calling it correctly according to the rules. But given the circumstances, and the fact that the kid made the save, I also wouldn’t have thought ill of you just taking the keeper aside after the game to let him know what happened, and that in a league game it probably gets called.
Put another way, but saying the same thing: if you could have gotten away with the non call (as outlined above) without all the parents realizing the situation, then go with the non call and make everyone's life easier.