A conversation between two spectators at a junior basketball game, let’s call them Peter and Jose.
Peter: “Which one is your boy?”
Peter: “I wanted to tell him how rubbish he is.”
Jose: “You can’t say that he is only a kid; how would you like it if I said it to your boy?”
Peter: “You have done that all game.”
Jose: “Who is your boy?”
Peter: “The referee.”
Round of applause for these heroes and heroines that are least respected on the court by players and fans. Ironically speaking, they own the game because their absence would automatically mean no game played. I slapped the court out of frustration during league games as a wrong call had been called on my account. The adrenaline while in play is too much that sometimes our emotions take the best of us, and we drop our ethics. We have witnessed referees get threatened by players and fans during games with statements like that of Diana Taurasi, a famous icon of the WNBA, when she told the referee, “I will meet you in the lobby later.” If you happened to watch a few games at the Makerere Main ground, the referees were literally intimidated when it came to Makerere Men’s team playing. The disrespect that they receive from the coaches, players and, fans needs to be tamed.
When I was getting accustomed to team play and all that comes with it, our coach consistently reminded us that sports are a fair play.
I mean, the referee is human. They are probably also battling inner wars but had to come to court to ensure your game takes place and secure their jobs. After all, to err is to human, and to forgive is …… We have witnessed games where a shot is blocked, and the referee calls a foul, or a ball is stolen, and a defensive foul is called, or a travel is made, but the basket is counted valid. Fortunately, the developed systems have had VAR incorporated into the system, and a replay will be watched for a final decision to be made. However, for a system where we still depend entirely on one’s point of view, we should be grateful for the fairness portrayed in the games. Leave alone game-fixing or what will be referred to a game wagering in technical terms, where maybe an umpire or referee will be given a small fee to favor team x over team y. In most games free of that vice, we can’t dispute the fairness they try to have in the games.
Nevertheless, I won’t guarantee that respecting them will stop one from yelling at them or calling them out for a play that didn’t go your way. That whole adrenaline rush while having a power drive intercepted with a foul neglected by the referee will most probably cause you to gesture angrily or smack a lip. If only we could master self-control. Luckily enough, reactions are under your circle of control, which can affect the referees’ behavior towards you as a player or as a team. Just avoid getting yourself into those compromising situations.
The next time you go for pick-up, volunteer to ump the game. I am all ears for whatever story you come back with.