There is a large set of philosophies that speak to specific situations that go on during the game. Dave Hall talks often about the “game within the game,” or the “inner game.” One of the things that make some officials more successful than others is being aware of the fact that a basketball game from the officiating perspective is like an onion, that can be peeled back layer by layer to better understand the core.

Some philosophies concern the importance of point guards and post players. Others deal with “go to” players, the players teams must have on the floor in order to compete. There are other philosophies that deal with match ups, style of play, score, time remaining, rivalries and the foul count to name just a few.

Some very experienced officials will tell you that there is no need for “philosophy” in officiating. They say that everything you need is in the rule book or the officials manual. Talk to them for a while about basketball officiating though and before you know it they will be talking philosophy in one manner or another

“Get the fouls that matter” is nothing more than philosophy. “Officiate the defense” is philosophy, as is “see the play begin, develop and finish.” Some folks like to call philosophy “guidelines” or “principles.” They can put put a different label on it, but, it is still philosophy.

One of the most important philosophies concerns the relative behavior of coaches. I witnessed a sub varsity game last week worked by two young but promising officials. During the first half of this very competitive game the coach of Team A did not utter a peep. He behaved like every coach should behave on the sideline.

The coach of Team B on the other hand was moaning, complaining, officiating,showing the traveling signal and playing to the sparse crowd from the second the toss went up to start the game. The officials spent most of the first half “baby sitting” this coach, communicating with him constantly and generally trying to appease him so he wouldn’t go completely sideways. They did not have to speak to the Coach of Team A once.

During the middle of the third quarter with the game still very close there were three difficult “gray’ play situations or “tweeners,” as my friend Doran Gotschall likes to call them. All three of these plays were adjudicated in favor of Team B coached by the loudmouth coach. These three plays happened in rather quick succession and I got the feeling that maybe the officials felt coherence in to ruling in the loudmouths favor. I don’t know for sure, but that is the feeling i got.

Now, The coach of Team A who has not said a thing the entire game up to this point, begins to think he must have to act like a jerk in order to get some of these close situations to go his way. So, before they knew it, the two officials now had two loud mouth officials on there hands and the game went “south” really quickly. I am sure the two officials left the floor with a sour taste in their mouth.

There are a couple of philosophies that could have come into play in this game. The first is to deal with the loudmouth coach early on in the game by charging him with a technical foul if he failed to respond to admonishments and stop signs.

The second philosophy concerns being aware of how the coaches are behaving and if one is a jerk and the other is a prince, be sure you do not reward the jerk! In this situation this philosophy tells you that the coach of Team A, the good guy, the guy demonstrating sportsmanship gets the benefit of the lions share of tough plays. This philosophy is not telling you to cheat, it is telling you that if it is a foul, it is a foul, no matter who committed it. But, if the play is “gray,” or a “tweener” that could go either way, send it in the direction of the good guy or gal. Don’t let the “jerk” think that he can intimidate you and don’t let the crowd think he can intimidate you.

The “tie” goes to the good guy.

Now that is philosophy.

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