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Becoming a Ref: Bombshell Dropped

This is part of an ongoing series as our own Justin Meyer embarks on becoming a working basketball ref. It will cover his experience through the process of taking the certification classes, learning the nuances of the position, and eventually calling games.

I attended my second basketball officiating class over the weekend and received some startling news: refs are expected to be clean shaven while calling games.

My face has been immersed with hair since age 16, and I have worn some version of a beard ever since. When totally without any facial hair, I look like puberty skipped me. This is something I learned at an early age and have committed to largely avoiding.

It is unsettling to discover my precious tool that allows people to look me in the eye will be ripped from my cheeks. Last winter, I grew my facial hair out for months, then fashioned it into a beautiful, rustic, Civil War-era sculpture as an homage to goofiness. Unfortunately, those plans will have to be postponed until after basketball season, possibly creating a window of opportunity for separatists to rabble another rebellion. I’m not saying anything will happen, but I am saying to keep your muskets warm.

You would respect this man as a ref, right?

Instead, this winter to a gym coming near you, a child masquerading as an adult masquerading as a basketball ref will officiate your kid’s game.

About half the class went into shock when our instructors dropped that bombshell, informing us that we would have to say goodbye to our facial friends. Despite the trauma I experienced in that moment, I do have some recollection of what took place during the rest of class.

We spent most of it covering Rule 4 in our rule books, which outlines the definitions of virtually everything: what constitutes as possession, what counts as dribbling and ending your dribble, violations and much more. The language is understandably thorough, which can make it more confusing than in practice at times. For the most part, the information felt like things I already knew from my years of watching and being around the sport, just put into official terms.

Next week, we will be getting into the gym for the first time, leaving the classroom to practice signals and blowing the whistle. The plan is for my equipment to come in this week, and I’m excited to get it all on and begin sounding my horn.

I’m still anxious for what is yet to come and actually calling games, but I do feel better having put another week behind me and getting more comfortable being in a class again.

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