Sunday, March 3, 2013

Curren$y -- "You See It" (2011)

Courtside, a few drinks
Cussing at the referee
His officiating stinks

They don't sell alcohol at the high school basketball games that I referee.  But the players, coaches, and parents -- especially the parents -- still cuss at my partners and me, making it clear that they think our refereeing stinks.

The main purpose of this post is to give you a feel for the behind-the-scenes life of a high school basketball referee.  But first, I need to get something off my chest.

Here's what I have to say to all those parents who yell at me during my games: put a cork in it!  Seriously, parents -- up yours.  You're as clueless as I was before I took the referee course and passed the rules exam eleven years ago.  I used to sit up in the bleachers watching my kids' game and yelling "Three seconds!" and "Over the back!" and other such nonsense like I actually knew what I was talking about -- just like you do.

Only a few of the many 
refereeing signals I've mastered
Referees occasionally get a measure of revenge against the know-nothings up in the stands.  A few weeks ago, I was doing a public-school JV game.  Some father sitting in the front row was trying to get me to call three seconds on one team.  "Thousand one, thousand two, THOUSAND THREE!" he would yell at the top of his lungs -- I guess he thought he could embarrass me into making the call.  (Just the opposite, folks.)

The first words out of the mouth of the grizzled old veteran who taught my refereeing class were these:  "Calling three seconds is the sign of a weak referee!"  There are several reasons that referees don't call three seconds as often as parents think they should call three seconds (but only on their little darlings' opponents, of course) -- one being that parents have no idea what the three seconds rule actually says, and are usually calling for it when no violation has taken place.

Anyway, during a timeout, "Mr. Three Seconds" loudly pointed out that the game clock was still running.  What he apparently didn't realize is that most modern scoreboards show the time remaining in the timeout during a timeout -- not the time remaining in the quarter.

Giving a tech makes me smile, too!
Let's say there's a full (60-second) timeout with 2:45 left in the 4th quarter.  Once the referee tells the scoreboard operator that a 60-second timeout has been called, he or she will hit a button that puts 60 seconds on the clock and starts the countdown.  Once the timeout is over, the game time (here, 2:45) automatically reappears.

Confusing the game clock and the timeout clock is a rookie mistake.  When this bozo urgently shouted "The clock's running!" during that timeout -- obviously, his son's team was behind, so he wanted to conserve every second left -- I replied politely but loudly enough to be heard, "Sir, that's the timeout clock."

I could spend all day giving you examples of parents being wrong and referees being right.  But my license for shooting fish in a barrel just expired.  So instead of doing that, let's lift the curtain on my life as a ref. 

Here's the gym at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland, one Saturday before the Churchill Bulldogs and the Walt Whitman High School Vikings clashed:

The public schools in Maryland usually have the refs change into uniform in an office usually occupied by coaches or PE teachers.  It's as if the players got dressed in the chemistry lab -- a real dressing room would work much better, but you take what you get.

It was obvious that one of the Churchill coaches was a frustrated artist or at least a wannabe art teacher.  He had pinned a number of reproductions of modern paintings up on the wall.  Here's Joan Miró's "Red Sun" (from the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC):

I'm not sure if the same coach or a different one posted this Albert Camus quote:

My experience at the Washington International School the next week (when the WIS Red Devils hosted the team from another small private school, the Sandy Spring Friends School Wildebeests) was quite a bit different.  The WIS gym is a relatively modest affair:

However, there's an actual officials' dressing room, complete with lockers, a toilet, and a shower.

Most high school showers are pretty grungy.  I don't use them often, but sometimes you just can't leave with showering -- for example, when you are meeting your hot (age-adjusted) French girlfriend après le match.  Ending up with toenails that look like something that belongs on a space alien is the price you pay for not stinking up the boudoir.

The WIS shower, by contrast, was lovely -- and it had a copious amount of really hot water and an assortment of toiletries:

I scorned the "Nivea for Men" body wash and used instead the "Victoria Secret Forever Romance" shower gel.  It went a little too heavy on the lavender -- but Frenchwomen love lavender, so that was cool.

My most recent game assignment took me to far-away Alexandria, Virginia, for a doubleheader pitting the boys' freshmen and junior varsity teams from Bishop Ireton and Bishop Denis J. O'Connell High Schools, two Roman Catholic schools from Northern Virginia.  (Both are named after former bishops of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, but neither school is now in that diocese.)

Ireton and O'Connell are members of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference -- which is made up of 12 high schools (eight are coed, two are all-male, and two are all-female) located in seven different cities and counties in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. 

The WCAC is widely considered the best basketball conference in the Washington metropolitan area -- some would say it's the best basketball conference in the country.  Three of the top five boys' teams in the Washington Post's metro-area rankings (which include about 256 high schools) are from the WCAC -- including #1 and #2.  According to the Post, three of the seven best girls' teams in the area -- including #1 and #3 -- are WCAC squads.

2012 WCAC boys basketball all-conference team
Every one of the eleven boys on the 2012 WCAC all-conference team were offered  basketball scholarships to Division I colleges.  Among the schools that offered scholarships to those players were a few that you are probably used to seeing play in the NCAA tournament: Indiana, North Carolina, Syracuse, Villanova, North Carolina State, Maryland, and Pittsburgh. 

So refereeing a WCAC junior varsity game is more of a challenge than a lot of lesser varsity games -- especially because you have to do it immediately after refereeing the freshmen game.  (WCAC freshmen aren't exactly chopped liver.)  Also, those games utilize a two-referee crew, while WCAC varsity games use a three-referee crew (like colleges and the NBA).

At Bishop Ireton, my partner and I got dressed in a coaches' office.  From the look of this sign, it was a female coaches' office.

In case you can't make out the sign, it reads as follows: "Gentlemen: Please put seat back down.  Thank you."

I'm not complaining.  The athletic director -- a swell fellow -- told us our money was no good at the concession stand, so after our games my partner and I grabbed some complimentary chow and watched the first half of the varsity contest.

Finally, here's a picture of a local middle-school gym where I recently did some county rec department games.  About ten years ago, I saw one of my daughters drop 35 or so points on a hapless opponent.  (Her team was pressing, and the other team kept throwing the ball right into her hands, so she made a lot of layups that day.  My other daughter scored seven in the first quarter and then stopped shooting --  she was either afraid of showing up the other team, or didn't want to draw any more attention to herself.)

At the end of my games, I head for my car and reward myself with a cold beer -- the "King of Beers" hits the spot after a couple of hours of running up and down a basketball and suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in the form of idiotic comments from players, coaches, and parents:

Curren$y is a New Orleans rapper who once recorded for Lil Wayne's Cash Money Records.  "You See It" is from his 2011 album, Weekend at Burnie's.  

Curren$y is often pigeonholed as a "weed rapper."  As a review on Allmusic said, "Curren$y raps more about getting high than most people do . . . [but] to focus on his cannabis appetite is to ignore some of the things that make him one of the more dependable working rappers" (whatever that means).

Here's "You See It":

Click here if you'd like to buy the song from Amazon.  But whether you buy it or not, just keep your opinions to yourself the next time I referee one of your kids' games.

1 comment:

  1. Back in the 1950s we had a local music entrepreneur named John Dolphin. He had a record shop in South Los Angeles called "Dolphin's of Hollywood", which was about a dozen miles southeast of Hollywood & Vine. The Huggy Boy radio show for many years was aired by remote hookup from the "studio front window" between midnight and 4 AM. In addition to selling records and sponsoring the DJ show, Mr. Dolphin had two record labels: "Cash" and "Money". (I have discs from both labels in my collection). There was also a "Cash Songs" publishing entity. Eventually, Huggy Boy and "Lovin' John" came to a parting of the ways, and I finally met Mr. Hugg at a record shop in Long Beach, where Johnny Otis also spun the platters in the front window. Mr. Dolphin came to a tragic end in 1958, when he got into a business dispute with a songwriter. Mr. D. pulled a knife, and the composer responded by arming himself with a pistol. The old adage, "Never bring a knife to a gunfight" was proven by Mr. Dolphin's demise. According to the story of this event, two of the teenage musicians who would later become members of the Beach Boys saw this episode from the dark side of the music business, or at least were close enough to hear the gunshot.