Webster defines professionalism as

[quote style=”boxed”]The conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person.[/quote]

The 2011-2012 high school basketball season is fast approaching and will be on us before we know it.  Now might be a good time to take a few minutes and self evaluate your approach to officiating in terms of its professionalism.  Treat your officiating as a small business.  In essence it is a small business whether or not you think of it as an avocation.  The product you are selling is your officiating skill.   Your officiating professionalism equates to customer service on the small business side of things.

Let’s list some of the areas in basketball officiating that you want to approach in as a professional manner as possible.  Keep your availability up to date.  Whether your games are assigned through some assigning software or in some other manner assignors need to know whether or not you are available on a certain date.  Keep your availability current.  There is nothing more annoying to an assignor than you showing you are available on your calendar, assigning you a game and then having you reject it because it is your kid’s birthday.  Keep it up to date.

Accept your games in a timely manner.  Send contracts back right away if that is how you get games or accept them or decline them immediately if you get them through software.  Don’t keep an assignor wondering if he/she has those games covered or not.  It is especially important to accept or decline games quickly if this assignor is in competition with other leagues and assignors for officials.

Make contact with your partner(s).  If you are listed as the referee it is your responsibility to call or make contact with your partners.  If the referee doesn’t call you several days ahead of time you call him or her.  Messages, texts and emails should request a replay making sure information was received.  Don’t leave a message with a wife or kid.  Make contact!

Contact the school and confirm games times, location and your arrival times.  Name recognition is important to a small business.  There is no better way for your business to grow than by the athletic director knowing your name.

Dress appropriately.  You don’t have to arrive at the game site in a tuxedo but represent your business with a clean and professional look.  Make sure your uniform looks good as well.  Don’t walk out on the floor with a black jacket that has more wrinkles in it than a road map has blue hi-ways.  Make sure your uniform fits.  Neither, too small or too big makes a good impression on players, fans or coaches.  Make sure pant legs are at an appropriate length.  If your shirt is too big get it tailored.  If the arms holes are too big get them altered to fit.  Shine your shoes every night out.

Do something to enhance your pre-game conference.  If you are in charge of giving it, have it printed out.  If you are not in charge, listen and don’t interrupt to joke around or tell war stories.  If you have something constructive to add, do so.  Bring some ides with you that will make your conference better.  Utilize your I-pad if you have one.  Turn off your cell phone!

Think about your body language as you take the floor.  Don’t glad hand everyone in the building.  If friends come up to talk to you discourage them.  Pay attention to your body language.  There is a fine line between confidant and cocky.

Count players; look for jewelry and illegal uniforms.  Watch for dunking and be ready and present at the captain and coaches meeting.  Look them in the eye when you introduce your selves. Remember, today’s assistant coaches are tomorrows head coaches.  Introduce yourself to them as well as too the head coach.  Introduce yourself to the scorers and the timers as well.

Be an active part of a post game conference.  If you are the referee begin by bringing up a play that you had and didn’t feel good about.  This can then lead to other plays that your partners struggled with.  Be honest, objective and supportive.  Leave the dressing room better than you found it.  Don’t leave garbage or water bottles lying around.  This is especially true if you are dressing in someone’s office or class room.  Leave them a thank you note detailing your appreciation for using their office.  Don’t look in their desk drawers.

Schools are not obliged to bring you food or drink.  If they do that is a plus.  Be appreciated!  Do not ask for food or drink.  Bring your own water.  If they bring you water all the better.

Be careful how you use social media when it comes to officiating.  Never say anything about a game, school or other official that isn’t positive.  Negative comments can come back to bite you hard in the butt and embarrass your fellow officials.  If you are a parent and an official you have to really be careful about how you act and what you say when you attend your child’s game.  When you wear two hats you have special responsibilities.  I know several officials who have damaged their officiating career by how they acted at their own children’s basketball games.

You may not be the most skilled official in America when you take the floor every Friday evening, but you can be one of the most professional.

[box type=”note” size=”large” style=”rounded”]One Major Rule Change[/box]

The NFHS changed the penalty for fouls during throw-ins for the coming season.  Several definitions were edited to reflect that team control now exists during a throw-in once the thrower has the ball.  Because of this fundamental change the rule will no longer award free throws to the defending team who is in the bonus if the throw-in team commits a foul.

So, Team A has been awarded a throw-in.  A1 has the ball at her disposal.  A3 is guilty of an illegal screen on B3.  Team B is in the bonus.  In previous seasons Team B would be awarded free throws.  Not so this season.  A3 is charged with a Team Control Foul which goes on Team A’s foul count toward the bonus, and Team B simply gets the ball for a throw-in, sideline or end line, nearest the spot of the foul.

Will this play happen very often?  It might happen to you once this season so you want to be ready for it.  It happened in the Colorado State Tournament last season and the officiating crew jacked it up.  They were before their time and did not award free throws when Team B was in the bonus.  Now the rule change makes the rule more consistent across the board.

Bring this rule change up for discussion in your pre-game conference all season long.

Here is an additional thought.  What if this play happens on an alternating possession throw-in.  What happens to the alternating possession arrow?  Rule 6-4-5 will give you the answer if you don’t already know.


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