SAY WHAT? - Be Polite and Professional
I am currently enjoying the book, "Say What? How to respond to players and coaches." I recently added this to my ever growing library and I love to read and glean the finer tips and pointers to help improve my officiating. I purchased it through Referee Magazine and NASO.
For some reason, this one jumped out at me...
When answering a question regarding a specific play, never tell a coach, "That's not my call." It is permissible to say, "I'm sorry, Coach, I had a different responsibility (or view) on the play."
This response is contrary to my natural disposition. Inside of me, I want to tell the coach that they are being ridiculous in their expectation that I should have had the call. They should know better. I feel that they should realize that they are needlessly chewing my backside when they know very well that I was not responsible the call they are seeking. Keep in mind that I work mainly two official games and it is a huge court to cover. If two officials are watching every play, then they are NOT doing their jobs.
Coach request requiring this type of comment from the official typically happens when the coach is frustrated. They are usually speaking out because they are upset that the play or call did not go their way. But in all seriousness, it really is NOT my call and I feel like screaming it loudly without throwing my partner under the bus. I want to stand my ground, yet maintain the integrity of the crew. Yes, that is the goal, protect the crew. I think the phraseology from this book is the right approach.
Let me practice using my words....
TRY #1 - "Coach, I'm sorry, but my responsibilities on that play had me looking elsewhere."
FAIL - That was too wordy and left me open to criticism.
TRY #2 - "I'm sorry Coach, You should know better. I had a different coverage responsibility on that play."
FAIL - This would leave the Coach frustrated, but speechless.
TRY #3 - "I am sorry Coach, but I was watching my primary coverage area and trusted my partner to deal with the play you are asking about."
FAIL - While true, it drove the bus right over my partner.
TRY #4 - "Seriously Coach, I had my hands full with my primary coverage area, and certainly wasn't looking at the players in the far corner. I don't have super powers!"
FAIL - Maybe a bit overly sarcastic.
TRY #5 - "Coach, you are being ridiculous. Could you please get off the court, get back into your box, and tone it down a bit?"
FAIL - But I said please.
TRY #6 - "I'm sorry Coach, I had a different responsibility on the play."
SUCCESS - But I know that it will leave the door open for, "Well tell your partner to get the call right next time!"
And that is the way the confrontations flow in the midst of a game. There will probably be ten more similar confrontations before the final buzzer sounds.
Make it a great game! Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah