Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

January 20, 2013

Time for everyone to take a ‘T’

Technically speaking, it’s become a bit of a problem.

And it raised its ugly head Friday night when four technical fouls were called in the Bishop Walsh-Allegany City League boys basketball game. Three were against Bishop Walsh.

For those of you keeping score at home, that’s three City games, five technical fouls. And, unfortunately, two of those games were decided by a grand total of five points.

A week ago, a technical led to Fort Hill getting two foul shots in a game with Allegany, which moved a 64-62 lead to 66-62 with 1:28 left in the fourth quarter.

Fort Hill won 68-66.

Friday night, two technicals led to the disqualification in the second quarter of Bishop Walsh 6-6 center Quincy Redmon.

Bishop Walsh lost 64-61.

What in the name of Mendy Rudolph is going on here? And what’s in store for us in the second half of the season, which tips off Friday when Fort Hill plays at Allegany?

No one knows for sure. But everyone needs to keep their cool and remember we’re talking about high school sports here. Many’s the night over the last 25 years that I’ve left  a game telling myself, “Self, why would anyone want to be an official/referee/umpire?”

One of my favorite back-and-forths repeated itself late last year when, no less than three minutes into a game, a  fan implored loudly, “C’mon, ref! Let the kids play!”

It wasn’t but a few minutes later when the same voice bellowed, “You better start calling something or this game’s going to get out of control.”

Similar cries are heard at other games, too, whether it be for personal fouls, pass interference or holding in football or the size of the strike zone or the placement of a  tag in baseball and softball.

Some of our local basketball officials work other sports, too. They’re not referees. They’re gluttons for punishment.

As one who took a basketball officiating class in college (hey, you wouldn’t take chemistry or physics as an elective, either), let me assure you it’s a challenging and difficult job. And you learn not to waste your time waiting after games for compliments.

Many of us expect officials to be perfect when the game begins and improve as the game progresses.

What if we held others to the same standard?

Extra foul shots and points sure do hurt, especially in close games that go down to the wire.

But what if Bishop Walsh had made more than two field goals over the final 6:30 Friday night? What if the Spartans had not missed two foul shots and then turned the ball over on the inbounds pass after an intentional foul with less than a minute to go? What if they hadn’t missed 16 of their 24 shots in the first half?

And a week earlier at Fort Hill, what if Allegany had gotten just a few more rebounds and not had been crushed on the boards by 41-20? What if the Campers hadn’t had nine turnovers in the first quarter?

We tend to forget little stuff like that. But we remember a few fouls we disagree with.

That’s just the way it is. Human nature, I suppose.

Seldom does officiating determine the outcome of a game, but as someone who received several technicals as a player, there was a time I didn’t believe it.

There are certain actions and certain words that are automatic T-makers. Coaches know them. Players should, too.

We don’t know if any of the players who received technicals over the last two weeks said any of the magic words because no one knows except the player and official. The first BW technical foul Friday was for pre-game dunking.

Redmon’s were supposedly for taunting, which increasingly has become a point of emphasis for officials over the years. One came after he had made a foul shot in the first quarter. The other came after he had blocked a shot in the second. I didn’t see either. It doesn’t mean something didn’t happen, but there wasn’t a big scene, lots of finger-pointing or extended jawing back and forth, either.

The difference between taunting and raw emotion after making a big play can be a fine line at times. Everyone should acknowledge that.

The three BW technicals led to six Allegany foul shots. The Campers made four and won by three, something a lot of fans on one side of the gym knew as they left that night.

Redmon, because he was ejected, must sit out the next BW game, which is a week from tonight at Frankfort.

These technical difficulties aren’t just a Cumberland thing. Grafton was whistled for three Big Ts in Saturday night’s game at Petersburg.

Where to go from here? Maybe we should all take a T, as in timeout.

Communication is key,  and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Coaches would be wise to spend an extra few minutes at practice to remind players what is accepted, and expected.

Officials could issue a bit more of a detailed reminder during the pre-game captain’s meeting. It seemed to take care of an alleged problem in football a few years ago.

Many times officials have given players a short, personal warning to try to halt a possible problem in its tracks. Then, if the action continues, the players have no leg to stand on in defending themselves.

In the meantime, it would be good for all of us to take a deep breath and relax, and then remember to yell more in support of our favorite players and teams than in ridicule of few lonely souls already wearing black and white stripes.

Nobody’s perfeck.

Mike Mathews is a Cumberland Times-News sportswriter. Write to him at mmathews@times-news.com

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