Becoming a Ref: Another Needed Week Off

It has been a rocky road for me in my short career as a basketball ref. I’ve been verbally assaulted on several occasions, I’ve seen the gambit on partners, and I’ve also seen brilliantly positive coaching despite otherwise negative environments.

My anxiety has improved. It’s still there, but it’s no longer crippling, and the harsh come down after experiencing an anxiety attack for hours in a row is gone. I’ve seen multiple levels at this point – junior varsity, middle school, youth rec and travel – and have a general understanding of what the vibes at each of them can be.

But when I truly reflect on the entirety of my experience so far as a basketball ref, I can’t say I’ve enjoyed it. It has caused me massive amounts of stress, and I do not look forward to my dates or games. In fact, depending on what they are, I dread them.

I haven’t done any games this week. I was supposed to do one last Thursday, but for some reason, all the games in that league that day were postponed, and I’m not available on the new date. So, it has been another extended break for me, and a welcome one at that.

I’m completing my commitments for this season. I’m confident enough in my abilities as a ref, and I won’t go back on my word. Plus, the money is nice. But I’m not taking anything new, and I will not continue officiating at any level but youth after this season.

I might continue to ref at the youth level, though, but only rec. Youth travel basketball is hostile and the behavior of many adults coaching and attending games is abhorrent. But at the rec level, positivity, learning and exercise are the focuses, as they should be. You will do three to five games in a row, with each game lasting an hour with a running clock. The atmosphere is much more relaxed, and as a ref, you spend a good amount of time explaining and teaching rather than absorbing abuse and maintaining high intensity. It’s a money making, and it doesn’t involve much of the negative aspects of being a basketball ref at other levels.

I have games in a rec league again this weekend, then a return to junior varsity girls with a few people from my class. Both of those dates should be good experiences. I have more middle school games left, though, and who knows what will be in store for me then.

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