By FRANK DESORBO
Over my professional career and my avocation, these three concepts have supported my managerial experiences and my avocation as a sports official. The two endeavors involved reading insurance policies, collective bargaining contracts, baseball, softball and basketball rule books. As you would expect, I never enjoyed reading fiction, I wonder why! I know that my managerial and my officiating career complimented each other. In both jobs being fair, consistent and firm was the key.
Using the term of ‘Spirit and Intent’ of the rules, helps the game, myself and many players and coaches. Understanding insurance policies, labor relations concepts and sports rule books, you develop a deity complex and you apply good solid human concepts. The fair application of the rules, my personality and style always treated me well.
I used to do Little League games early in my 25-year officiating life. I remember a small 10-year-old player coming to bat in the 5th inning in a game with the apparent outcome already determined (score wise). Both teams and fans applauded this youngster as he came to bat. I was impressed and excited as was this youngster. He hit a ball in the air down the right field line. He ran like a deer and ended up at second base with the thrill and pride of a champion. The ball he hit was a nice shot but it was foul by about a foot and very obvious. However I point to fair territory and he scampered to second base. The spirit and intent of the rules made a great memory for me and that little boy. I’ll never know if he knew it was foul or better yet, who really cared. Every one in the park was consumed with joy and excitement.
In the basketball rule book there was a portion after the precise rule sections entitled ‘Points of Emphasis.’ The section covers a different subject each year but I recall that the concept of ‘blocking or charging fouls’ was there a few times over the years. It is one of the toughest calls in basketball. For you non-sports people, blocking is a foul by the defensive player and charging is a foul by the offensive player with the ball. I was doing a Varsity high school game in December. We two officials had a few blocking fouls in the first half of the game but no charges.
Now I divert and explain the ‘Parting Shot’ concept. I subscribed to a sports officiating magazine entitled ‘Referee’ for 22 years. The final page was entitled ‘Parting Shot.’ It had picture and a human interest and/or comical twist caption worth 1,000 words. I have a special one with an umpire digging into his tobacco chew of ‘Red Man.’ He looks my size and profile. I only chewed on the ball field or golf course. I wish my cave and files were in better order but maybe the picture will arise with another story.
Now back to the hoop game. I was standing on the sideline waiting to begin the 3rd quarter with a jump ball. An adult approached me and said “don’t you call a charge.” I responded with ‘it’s Christmas time, we let them charge all they want.” Not knowing if the adult would enjoy my levity and silliness or take offense to my remark, I walk away to the center court and never looked back. ‘Points of Emphasis’ and a ‘Parting Shot’ were covered all in one memorable occasion.