12 Apr 2007

Vertical stripes are slimming

Alas...my apologies. I stated in my return story of a few days ago that I would have a certain entry done.
Well, work and progress (of the NHL playoffs that is) got in the way, causing me no end of consternation on how to write the aforementioned story. So, anyway, here it goes.
I have been wearing black and white stripes for several years - as a hockey official for 26 years and as a football official for 20 (I missed a couple of seasons in there, but close enough). I have also officiated other sports - baseball, which I did for more than 20 years and stopped doing two years ago; soccer, which I started about 15 years ago, but lost interest about eight years ago due to living in places where competitive soccer was as much an afterthought as someone actually using their signal light in any Prairie town; basketball, which I did for probably a 15 years off and on until my knees told me to give up about eight years ago; and volleyball, that I did only for a few years here and there to help make ends meet when money was tighter than the grip on the steer wheel when you see gas prices go up again.
And I was the farthest one from that old (and oh so not true) statement - Those who can't play coach, those who can't coach, ref.
I played all of the sports mentioned - except volleyball, I just didn't like it - and also got into officiating most of them before I stopped playing them.
Having played the game - hockey and baseball at a high level - it took hardly any effort to learn how to become a good official.
People often compare the sports and to difficult it is to officiate them. Well, hockey - with the new rules emphasis this past year in amateur hockey - has been made very easy, a lot more so than it was several years ago.
Baseball has always been more about perception and being at the right place with the right sightlines, making it nearly as difficult as the others. Basketball too, is the same way, since its only about what effect the play has on the opportunity to score or get the ball, not necessarily other places on the floor.
Volleyball has gotten looser with its rules in the last several years, with the emphasis placed more on creating excitement to attract fans (and therefore sponsors and money) to the sport than on the actual skills it took to play the game in the early days.
However, the one game that stands out now - as the one I would describe as the most difficult - is football.
Learning the various officiating positions and what they are looking for - which doesn't necessarily mean watching for the ball - knowing where to look, where not to look and all the while, taking flack from players, coaches and fans that can be as close as inches away from your ear.
(Note: one can't really appreciate that until you have had Sarge - you Saskatoon fans will know what I mean) yell at you from just feet away!!)
Oh, I nearly forgot, you have to do all of this while standing in one spot for a while, then running full tilt, stopping even quicker and then avoid getting clobbered by any number of mostly larger, heavier and iron-like equipment clad people charging into the area you're standing in with no regard for your safety.
But I wouldn't have it any other way.
I live for the play to come to my side, or into my area, of the field. I love the fact that I am up close and personal with the players and coaches - more so than hockey or baseball or basketball.
It's also a great way to stay in touch with my competitive nature - especially when I try to either catch up to a reciever and DB battling each other down the sideline or racing a ball carrier to the goalline.
The brotherhood of officials though hardly changes, regardless of the sport. But it certainly helps when you have five or six others out there to help you through something, as opposed to having to be alone for part or all of the game after a rough time, screw up, bad argument, tough time dealing with the game's participants - like you would in baseball or soccer and a little bit in hockey.
It's also good afterwards, when there's more people to buy 'refreshments' for you, instead of spending most of the money you made on yourself.
Hockey is also too long of season, baseball drags on and on (and that's just the games, not the season), soccer can be exceedingly dull at time, basketball has its moments and volleyball looks more like a bigger version of Pong - but football, it's something I look forward too more and more now.
I can't wait...just a few more weeks.
I was going to give a head's up on the next topic, but I won't do that anymore. I don't need the pressure.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's loud enough listening to Sarge 15 rows up - I can't imagine you would have much left of your ear drums if you were the line judge or head linesman!