Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Big Man-Little Ref

high school player dunkingIn the 1980s when I lived in Baltimore I tried my hand at news journalism and occasionally went to cover high school basketball. I concentrated on the summer league games since most papers wouldn't send a reporter to those and I might have the whole story to myself if something interesting happened. On one occasion I covered a game where an interesting incident did take place but I didn't submit anything for the next morning's edition. In fact this is the first time I've written it down.

In this game was a big kid from Walbrook High named, C. Williams. He was probably 6 feet 7 inches and young enough to still have some baby fat. The other kids in the game were shorter and skinnier but all were very talented ball players since it was something of a high school all star league.

Well, C. Williams was getting hacked and fouled under the basket and the referees apparently missed a lot of the illegal contact. Frustrated after a mishandled possession and with the lightning fast kids racing off to the opposite basket, C. Williams turned to the referee, a white man in his 60s and before the ref could follow the play down court, C. Williams bent down and said to him, "Baby, you got to get in the game!"

He said it as one would say to a teammate on the pickup basketball court if the latter was having a lousy game. Admonishing others to step it up is common in pickup basketball especially because rule number 1 is that winners stay on the court while the losing team has to yield to whomever is waiting for next game.

This case is humorous because C. Williams disregarded any authority-subordinate relationship that is understood when players are subject to a referee's direction. He sort of forgot who he was talking to and just spoke as if to a teammate.

[Note: This incident happened in 1985. I have related it to many over the years but during the first year or two after it happened, I told people that Williams bent over and also patted the referee on the rear while admonishing him to, "get in the game." I suppose I added that little bit for emphasis or because I thought my audience wouldn't find the truth as funny as I did.]

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