Becoming a Ref: It’s Almost Over

Last week, I only had one ref date: youth rec.

The morning went fine. There was more talk from coaches and fans than usual, but nothing that really mattered. In the final game of four that I called, both teams were short on players, but one team was especially low on numbers.

Near the start of the game, they only had five players. Then, a sixth showed up right before the tip, and they had to run with that. Then, one kid fouled out with a handful of minutes left in the fourth quarter, knocking them back down to five. With a little more than a minute remaining in the game, another one of their players fouled out.

They had to finish the game with four players. They did not win.

It was otherwise relatively uneventful, like most youth rec dates. I just show up, do my job, and leave while looking forward to my check arriving in the mail. Not too much nonsense involved. It’s just work.

I have only one more ref date left, and it’s another youth rec one this weekend. Otherwise, I’m done. No more. None. It’s over. The season is over.

I survived.

I knew I would, but man, did it feel like an impossible road forward at certain points this winter. The anxiety, the dread, the confrontations for no good reason at all, it was all a lot to handle. It certainly got better as the season progressed as I got better and more confident, plus I found more of my niche with the youth rec league and got luckier with the coaches and fans at my games. The money is nice, but I am thrilled that it’s nearly over.

It’s crazy to think back at how long this season has been. I first stepped onto a court as a ref in any capacity back in November, and I began my classes in September. This has been six months in the making, and I gave it a legitimate chance. Even though I have largely not enjoyed my time as a basketball ref, I am glad I did it. It’s important to put yourself in uncomfortable positions, and I have grown from my experiences this season. I have certainly become more accustomed to random strangers screaming at me over nothing regardless of what I do, and perhaps that will be a worthwhile skill to me to hold on to later in life when I take employment with Satan.

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