Officiating is an isolated endeavor as much as it is a team sport. I think of it as when you are getting to know someone on a date, your first one; you decide to watch a movie with the one you dig. The screen is up, and you’re staring at the same thing. Hard to get to know them when the movie is on. You’re engrossed with the action, interpreting the information on the screen and making assessments on the entertainment at hand. Officiating is similar. One person is behind the plate, the other is on the field; another person is in the lead, the other in the trail. Y’all might be looking at the same thing, but means something different
I think of all the people that I’ve met on those first times I officiated. Some people come to mind. Larry Dewer, a veteran Lacrosse and Basketball official was blessed, or vice versa, to have my first CYO game together. I called him the day before, I told him that the rear of my ears were soaking.
He replied on the phone, “sleep tight – DON’T HAVE ANY NIGHTMARES.”
That started my education on the basketball court. I was wearing form-fitting joggers and not referee pants. He asked me what I was wearing; in not so many words I told him that I wouldn’t ever wear referee pants if I didn’t need to. This moment was already necessary.
I think of Demetrios Tsiolis, who asked me not he first time out of my first AAU game at Island Garden and asked me if I was new (because he could tell) and if I also officiated Soccer because I was wearing high socks like Elliot Perry (I didn’t at the time.)
I think of Reggie Spencer who was there on my first real difficult game where I got in trouble because of my play calling, or lack thereof, because it was going so fast, I didn’t know what and when to call.
I think of Jim Fox, who I’m forever indebted to. I went from doing recreational games, to being thrusted in the conflagration that crystallized my skill to the point that informed me to start taking this whole racket seriously.
“Don’t ignore the person who helped you get to that high school game. Because the high school season is done February 15th. And now you ignored the assignor who’s helped you get those games. Here comes March 1st, now you want games. And you feel because we have a relationship you’re entitled. Business to me is yes we have a relationship – my priority is not to you. My priorities are to those that took their high school schedule
and said I can do only one night a week now.”
– Bernard Bowen Sr.
I even go all the way back when I think about my Latin teacher senior year, Father Phil, who’s office at school was enveloped and inundated with what seemed as endless owls. He told me the reason why, even though it should have been evident. He told me that owls were a symbolism for wisdom. I knew that to be true because it symbolized my parsimonious a** as cheap chips. Nonetheless, he taught me something that day. I thought he was the smartest person I knew. He told me he was the dumbest. Puzzled, I pushed him to explain. He said, “The more you know the more you realize you don’t know sh*t.”
I have applied that little bit of intel for all time – The more I seek knowledge, the more I realize it’s endless, a quest that continues.
THE GAME OF OFFICIATING IS NO DIFFERENT.
As you go further, do better games, meet officials more seasoned, wizened, than you, the pattern is clear: there’s levels to this sh*t. And like I’ve never forgotten what Father Phil told me, never forgot Father Phil – we should not forget the people that helped you to get to where you are.
And the further I go, the further you go, the further WE GO – we shouldn’t forget those that have helped us no matter we move to the Varsity Level, Collegiate Level, Pro Level, or OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD LEVEL. For they are the reason you got to where you are in the first place. This is a thank you to all the people that have gotten me to where I am as an official, and with Referee Rant.
“Never forget where you came from.” – Bernard Bowen Sr.