Let ‘Em Play, Ref…”
This evening I had the pleasure of officiating a high school basketball game in the Oakland Athletic League. Those games are rarely ever boring or one-sided. And tonight’s contest was no exception to that rule…Rules. We officials do not make the rules. We only know and enforce them during our appointed games.
And so it is interesting when we had a close score at halftime, that upon returning to the court prior to the start of the third quarter, a fan in the stands shouts out to me, “let the kids play, ref.” He said it again, as though I could not hear him from the 15 feet that separated us. And so, as I often will do to bring levity to a situation I said, “but they are playing…” Most of the people sitting near him laughed at the irony of this statement. The game had been played well by both teams, with one player hitting a shot at the buzzer to create the two-point advantage. So, to me and the others in attendance, the kids had played quite well.
Later in the evening, after the game had been decided, and I had time to reflect on the fans’ comment, I was struck by what type of game would be had if we just “let the kids play.” Would there be no fouls called? What about three seconds in the lane. Surely no one would call the numerous traveling violations that occur during an officiated game.
No, it would be less of a contest and more of a talent show to see who could outdo the other player. The game of basketball is a TEAM game. And as such, we officiate the actions of all the players, not just the wanna be superstar.
In your business or place of employment, are you allowed to just “let em play? No rules to follow. No procedures to adhere to. Come in when you feel like it and go home whenever…that is a recipe for confusion, chaos and bankruptcy.
Please, do us all a favor and respect the fact that we officials do this out of our love for the sport and our desire to insure that young athletes have the chance to play a game that will be officiated by rules, not by our whims. And every once in a while the team with the bigger heart achieves victory over the team with more talent. That would not happen in a game with no rules or guidelines to follow.
Our kids will respect the rules we fairly enforce. Let’s prepare them for the work world now, so that their having to adhere to a job description won’t send them into convulsions. That is sure to be a slam-dunk in preparation for their game of life.