When players blow a game, it means they’ve bungled up. When these guys blow a game, they are doing their job and it has nothing to do with bungling up. In refereeing jargon, blowing a game has a different connotation, referring to officiating the action by blowing the whistle.
The highest echelon of refereeing in basketball is being a FIBA referee and our country has 19 of those.
Those who aren’t taken in by basketball often cite its complexity as one of the reasons why. Their pontification being, so many rules and fouls! Double dribble. Triple double. Carry. Violation gyration.
In a game where 0.3 seconds worth of blink-and-miss action can decide the outcome, players have a hard enough time keeping up. At least for them the coin can only fall one of two ways. The result will always be either a win or a loss. For the referee, it’s always a lose-lose situation.
I’ve only officiated one match. As a senior in school I blew the junior’s match between kids who couldn’t get the ball up to the rim half the time. One of the teams was from my house, and my friends from the opposing team’s house were watching nearby. So I did my best to blow a fair game. In spite of that, after the game I had to hear about how I was biased towards my house.
Being aware of some sort of allegiance/remote connection between the official and one of the teams will result in a case of selective memory from the audience. Watching the game, you won’t remember the calls which were made against the supposedly biased team, and every call in its favour will stand out in your memory.
An official keeps the eyes peeled, hawk-like, to assess the action between the ten players. Ten eyes could do a good job of it, make it eleven to keep one on the ball. But then one of the guys would have to be a cyclops or a one eyed pirate.
You don’t notice the roof on your room. It’s just there. Always has been. It’s taken for granted as part of the background. Peel it off however and rain soaks the furniture with impunity after the sun has fried it, teaching you the importance of the silent roof. In pickup (informal) games, the referee isn’t around. Often the team that wins is the one which curses louder. That’s when one realizes the importance of the whistle blowers.
It could be argued that with the advanced levels of video technology available today, a game could be officiated with near perfection with some delay in calls. But that would remove the unpredictable part of the game a bit, officiating decisions and blunders give fodder for endless water cooler talk and add a human element to the game.
Think about that. One of the reasons the games are officiated the way they are now is so that the uncertainty of every call always hangs in the balance to keep the audience guessing and to make the game easier for people to relate to as they are officiated by other people who are just like them. The trade itself thrives a bit on the occasional oversights which even the best of officials commit sometimes. So it can be a lose-lose situation for them at times. Looking at it this way will make you think twice before arguing a call vehemently and look at referees with more respect.
(unless they miss that call which was so obvious)
A FIBA certified referee has to renew their license after every four years. The renewal process is done after the Olympics every year. This means that if you’ve been certified as a FIBA official a year before the Olympics, you have to renew your license the very next year. Renewal of the license involves a physical and a written exam.
There are 19 FIBA certified referees in India. Check back soon for more information about them.
Here’s a look at the career path available to a referee in India, from Shiba Maggon: