First you must climb.
Then you hang on for dear life.
No penalty, just progress.
Go up and across;
Each rung, is another challenge
Until Top to Bottom,
Start to Finish, is Won.
To varying degrees, each game I officiate is different. My first year, I’m a rookie, through and through. Even as a veteran, you can be a rookie, as a level changes. This constant is consistent, in its ever changing nature. The only thing in constant, is change.
June 2019: Me and my first born are at the playground. It’s the beginning of the summer, and Ma$e is now six; I can’t help but harken back to a time, when he wasn’t able to climb up these monkey bars that I can see from the bench I sit at. Now he moves to and fro at ease. Even when he falls and fails in the middle of going across, he can land safely. He doesn’t even know that at one point this was a pipe dream to even be safe to climb. Now it’s old hat.
“I bought every V12 engine
Wish I could take it back to the beginning.” – Jay-Z
December 2016: Huntington, NY: There’s a big game going on in a wide-open gym; it’s standing room only. The game is Basketball and the opponents are Chaminade and St. Anthony’s. It’s a Varsity Basketball game, and I see a game that I’ve been officiating for just a few months. I didn’t even think of officiating a game with three refs on it, but here it is, seemingly so a high pressure event, considering how many people are in the stands. I’m sitting in those stands, watching in awe of what is going on. I’m not nearly ready for whatever is happening, even though I thought I was really good at that point in time. I realized that the more I knew, the more I realized that there’s levels to this. There more I knew – the more I knew I know, nothing.
“I bought some artwork for one million
Two years later, that sh*t worth two million
Few years later, that sh*t worth eight million
I can’t wait to give this sh*t to my children.” – Jay-Z
A young man by the name of Lovell was on that game that night. I’ve seen him before; I attended a summer officiating camp, and didn’t think anything of it when I did meet him. I didn’t even think I was too far from him in terms of skill, as we both did the same things at that camp. But that night, his experience show. I consider that same young man, a kindred old soul, and a mentor one in the same, to me. He was one of the first people to spot me elsewhere, to tell me that I need to start venturing my talents to the city, to be challenged, to be a better official. I thought back to when I saw him at that game at St. Anthony’s, and thought, I just have to listen to anything that man says. Because not only is he an official. He’s official. In a way, when I first saw him work that big game, I was thinking of what I would be like if I was on the bar, trying to go across the apparatus. I went home that day, thinking that I wasn’t even ready to climb up the monkey bars.
“There’s no glory in claiming a mountain if you a want to do is to get to the top. It’s experiencing the climb itself – in all its moments of revelation, heartbreak, and fatigue – that has to be the goal.” – Karyn Kusama
AND AS WE TALKED ABOUT IN RULE 5, there’s no such thing, in officiating, in skipping steps. Brick by brick, tear by tear, we move on. We hope we can get better and better with each rep we take. It’s hard to take stock in where you are in terms of level. Hopefully you are improving every time you work, but it’s still an intangible plight – as you have a game to officiating, a whistle to blow, let alone thinking about where you are in your career.
But time and time again, I find that this is the best way to attack this intangibility, to make it concrete. I often like to find those that are of equal level to me, or way higher than my level. And I ask myself these questions?
Would I have the same approach as this official?Am I ready to work this game?Is this moment to big for me?Have I done a game that is similar to this, in terms of pressure?
If not: What do I need to get there?What did they do different that made them successful?What can I absorb to make my own?
These are questions I constantly ask, and these cannot be answered unless you watch games. MANY. GAMES. Go to games that you think you’ll never be on. Ask the questions aforementioned. Most important question out of the crop:
Can you handle this game, this pressure, at this moment in time as an official?
Think of the attributes that you need to get to that point. Then execute in reckless abandon to games that don’t nearly matter as much as the game that you just witnessed. You will be armed with thoughts and action, that combine to create the mettle that you will need to handle that type of game. As games pass, as months and years elapse, you may notice that you are closer to the big games.
After awhile, you can confidently say that you can handle that game. It’s like an endless race; a marathon if you will. Once you realize that you finished the race, there’s another race, and another finish line, to cross.
“I’ve been blessed to be somebody that’s been climbing that success mountain top for years of hard work, you know, but now it’s all connecting. And now, the whole world is watching, you know what i’m Saying, and it feels good ‘cause it’s good energy. This is all positive vibes, and good vibes and good every, so it feels incredible.” – DJ Khaled