I had the opportunity to work with a sophomore referee recently. He did a great job but was almost sent to the dark side before the game by a coach that wanted an edge. We knew both teams were undefeated and evenly matched so we diligently watched the layup lines before the game. The coach from Team A comes over and says politely, “I haven’t had you two before, but for some reason, the referees assigned to this tournament don’t listen to me.” My partner responded. Coach A says, “I am the Tournament Commissioner”. My partner responded. Coach A gives a bad example about whether referees should stop a game to allow a player to tie his/her shoe. My partner is about to respond when I say, “It may be timing. A referee may not be able to immediately answer your question during a game but we will do the best we can today” and I walk away.
Rejoined by my partner, I can see animosity building and I say, “Let it go. The coach is just trying to get an edge by insuring an ear”. I then work the tightest first half I can. At halftime, my partner and I critique the first half. I say to my partner, “The best way to manage a coach that feels they aren’t being listened to is to give them nothing to complain about”. I cite a play from the first half and how we handled it. The second half, we are close to and clear on every call. Whistles, mechanics, rotations and game administration are sharp. In the end, it was a two-point game. Neither coach appreciated the hard work my partner and I put into the game but neither coach complained about a single call we made. Game Management.