As someone who has reffed over 1,000 CRFC games over the past three years (seriously, I have gotten a lot better) I thought I would pass along a few of my all-time favorite anecdotes and observations as viewed from behind the whistle. This has all the makings of a weekly talk show that could even replace my monthly spot on NECN.
ìYou Take The Pan Face Guyî
Sometimes when guys are matching up on defense, they yell out to teammates who they have by the color of their shorts or some other identifying factor. You know, ìIíll take the guy with the Michigan shorts.î I am not sure why this is necessary when we have jerseys with numbers on them, but it happens at least once a night. But then there is always someone who doesnít think the color of the opponentís shorts is an obvious enough identifier. Instead, heíll point out the opponentís biggest physical flaw and yell something like ìIíll take the guy with the huge foreheadî or ìIíll take the guy with that gross zit hidden in his eyebrow.î Classic stuff.
This has to be my all-time favorite catch phrase, invented by that dynamic duo of ìMr. Fantasy Statî Fred Bermont and ìI want more rings than the Wolverineî Ian Whitney. Itís pure genius because it defuses any possible angry reaction from me as it includes the sweetest sounding word to anyone ñ their own name (except if you are being sentenced for life in prison or something like that, then I imagine it wouldnít sound so sweet). Bermont tells me it is very therapeutic and it has become his own version of ìSerenity Now.î Guys who donít even know Bermont and Whitney are now using it on a regular basis at CRFC. There really should be t-shirts given out to all CRFC players because at some point, you are going to want to yell out this phrase.
The Cup of Life
The only time that I was ever assaulted because of my reffing was last summer when a player (who shall remain nameless) threw a full cup of water at me after the game in a fit of rage. Luckily, it was one of those CRFC cone cups, so not much water got on my newly custom fitted Nike dry-fit. I only wish JRod was around for that one because I could have made millions off of the Commish in workers compensation instead of the $2 I get for every blog I write.
I know that it is rare that I know an actual rule, but this is a case where almost every night someone complains about it. Youíve all seen it before – a guy throws up an airball, usually on a drive, and then catches his own shot for the put back. The defense stops dead in their tracks, ignoring everything they have learned in their youth about ìplaying the whistle,î and then proceeds to yell vigorously for a traveling call. Let me say this once and for all, since we play mostly high school rules here, as long as it is a shot attempt, IT DOES NOT HAVE TO HIT THE RIM OR TRAVEL OVER THE CYLINDER IN ORDER FOR THAT PLAYER TO CATCH IT! And donít try to fake that it was a shot either, because I can tell the difference (ahem, Mike Turin).
Get Off My Back
Since we are on the topic of calls, this one happens almost every game. A shot is missed, the defensive player has rebounding position and an offensive player climbs his back like he is Jack and the Beanstock, which causes the defensive player to knock the ball out of bounds. Instead of calling the over the back on the offensive player, I give the guy a break and just give the ball to the defense. Of course, this is almost never good enough as that very same player that I just gave a break to proceeds to yell that the ball was out of bounds off the defensive player. Can we all try and see the forest for the trees here? I really have no idea what that expression means, but it seems to fit very well here.
Then there is always that guy who thinks that clapping during a free throw is an ingenious way to distract the other player into missing the free throw. This is the same guy who had no friends in the sandbox because he couldnítí play nice. Now, I am not talking about those hecklers from above, because that seems to always be in good fun, especially when coming from our very own scorekeeper Tibbs. But save the clapping during free throws for the 10 year olds at the Celts game because it is actually against the rules to do this. Whatís next, league issued CRFC thundersticks?
My Favorite Player IsÖ
I have gotten the ìyou play favorites when you refî argument a few times over the years, as have both DMac and Brian the Ref. Evidence usually ranges from seeing me joking with some players before games to saying that I give calls to all of my Saugus boys. This claim should really have been dropped from your argument repertoire after graduating from the 3rd grade. Iíll be friendly with anyone who is friendly with me, and I think I talk to Bermont and Whitney the most before games ñ so just ask them if I play favorites. The fact is, I canít stand any of you guys really.
Your Enemyís Enemy Is My Friend
Hereís a friendly tip – it is never a good idea to make fun of one of my calls with an opposing player, especially when that call just benefited you. You know, the ìYou didnít really foul me ñ that was a great blockî cute little conversation you sometimes have with your opponent after a call. Like I canít hear you? Save it for your post game hug because I can tell you right now, thatís not going to get you any close calls the rest of the game. Call it a pet peeve of mine (I actually donít care for that phrase because I like all pets, except birds, fish, small mammals, reptiles or any other animal that should live in the wild), but itís certainly something worth noting.
Mr. and Mrs. Whiner
There are 2 types of whiners here at CRFC: Whiner #1 complains most of the game, but then apologizes to you after the game and may even invite you to dinner once in a while. The Reverend Jeff Coburn, for example. Whiner #2 complains all game and legitimately hates your guts and has to control the urge to wait for you outside in the parking lot and club you to death with a 6 pack of Gatorade. Mike Quinn, for example. The problem is, sometimes itís hard to tell if Whiner #1 is actually Whiner #2 and is only pretending to be Whiner #1 in order to get you alone in the parking lot. Thatís why I always use extreme caution and have my Taser handy whenever I see someone from CRFC in the outside world, which happens almost every day. Watch out in the Public Garden, Rev!
It is quite obvious that I donít mind a little banter or moderate complaining here and there and I actually think it is fun at times, so feel free to continue to do so (at risk of a technical of course). But the late Andy Danielson never said one word to me about a call, or to another player for that matter. Not one. Ever. And he was a better player than 95% of you reading this, including me. Not everyone is lucky enough to have all the great qualities that Andy possessed (including me), but he is and always will be the measuring stick of CRFC sportsmanship.
Sadly, I have to add to this list as a member in spirit of the ALS-TDF team has recently passed away. Stephen Heywood, the middle brother of ALS-TDFís Jamie and Ben Heywood, passed away a few days ago after a long battle with ALS. Jamie founded the non-profit company in response to his brotherís diagnosis years back and he and Ben have been dedicated to finding a cure and caring for their brother ever since. In a cruel irony, the documentary about Stephenís life titled ìSo Much, So Fastî was released just a few months ago and I had the pleasure of seeing it in their hometown of Newton, MA. Jamie, Ben and the rest of the ALS-TDF squad have been playing at CRFC since the inaugural B League and have always exhibited the qualities that we think CRFC basketball is all about ñ good, clean basketball fun where you can be competitive and friendly at the same time. We consider them all a big part of the CRFC family. For more information about ALS and Jamieís organization, please visit www.alstdf.net.