Macon will once again host the GHSA State Basketball Tournament, and I encourage each of you, who may have an interest in this sport, to attend for a game or two. What you will see are truly amazing high school athletes playing a game that originated here in the United States and is more popular now than ever.
I have great respect for the coaches and players, having been involved in the sport as an official for more than 40 years, and I continue to be amazed at what I witness on the court. Of course there can be some interesting things going on in the stands as well, and this is where I would like to take you today.
There was a fellow named Scotty Perkins who officiated for many years out of Warner Robins, I believe, and he was quite a guy. Scotty could take more abuse as a basketball official than anyone I've ever seen. Back then there were only two guys on the court to hear the "suggestions" and "comments" coming from the stands, and when he worked a Demon's game, I was one of those more than willing to take a shot at him.
Of course, we never used any profanity back then but that was about all we didn't use. It seemed to be the perfect time to vent, as they say, and the guys in the striped shirts were available targets. I long ago changed my way of looking at officials, having become one myself in the late '60s and still running up and down the court today.
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Today you may very well see fans being asked to leave the playing area if they are too rowdy or disrespectful of coaches, officials or players. This is a good thing. We don't need to be a reflection of political campaigns when watching a basketball game, which eliminates calling officials cheaters, short, bald or stupid and coaches incompetent.
The fact is, there will be mistakes made by officials and coaches during the game, some can be corrected and some cannot. Here are some interesting for-instances with regard to calls made by officials that may be misinterpreted or confused by people in the stands.
If an official gives the ball to the wrong team for a throw-in and the ball becomes alive, that is not correctable. But, if an official fails to award a merited free-throw he may do so, if time permits. Once a foul is called, it stands as a foul and if contact occurs and it is not ruled as a foul, it is not one. Contact only becomes a foul if, in the judgement of the official, the contact was illegal and a large number of contacts in a basketball game are ignored and seen as incidental or not affecting the outcome of the play.
If a player sticks the ball over the sideline on a throw-in, the defensive player may grab the ball and go for a basket. And, three seconds only occurs when the offensive team has possession of the basketball. This means that during a rebounding situation when no one has possession, there is no limit to how long players may stand in the lane. Also, there does not have to be a three-second count in order for a held ball to occur. Opposing players simply must have control of the ball so that neither one can gain possession without undue roughness.
I could go on and on, but would encourage you to read a rule summary at your leisure to help you understand better the job of the officials as they seek to represent the game of basketball. So why would anyone want to officiate a high school basketball game? Here are the top five reasons:
5. Your self-esteem is too high.
4. You love morning pain.
3. Your hearing is not what it used to be.
2. You like the feeling of having just two friends in the whole world.
And the No. 1 reason? You get to wear really neat clothes.
The next time you have an opportunity to watch a game, think about this. There can be no game without officials and players. Coaches are not necessary but provide leadership and encouragement. Each entity is trying to be the best they can be at what they do. Like the beer commercial says, "Enjoy the game responsibly."
Sonny Harmon is a professor emeritus at Georgia Military College. Visit his blog at http://sharmon09.blogspot.com.