A referee can affect a game in a thousand ways. One call can literally be the difference between a team winning and losing a game. It’s a lot of pressure and when they make a mistake the fans and student sections on either side make sure that they know. They are constantly bombarded by chants from the student sections, chants like, “push it”, and my personal favorite, “nuts and bolts, we got screwed”.
I had the opportunity to talk to three referees prior to the Hamilton, Holland boys basketball game. The trio of Lowell Winne, George Friday and Brian Hall, have reffed games in primarily football and basketball, but have a total of 80 years of experience between the three.
Lowell Winne, who has the most experience out of the group with 28 years, said he decided to become a referee in college, “It was a way to earn money instead of working at the BK like all my friends,” Winne said. Winne also said that it started as a job and a way to earn money, but eventually became his connection back to both sports and gave him the same feeling that he had when he was a player.
Friday and Hall, also said that one of the reasons they started was, because it was good, cheap exercise and helped quench their urge to be a part of the game again. When I asked them about the pressure and the student section’s focus on them, they laughed. Saying, what else would they do? It just so happened that the same night I was talking with them, the Hamilton student section had costume night. One Hamilton student was dressed as a blind referee, complete with a blind mans cane and dark sun glasses. They laughed when one of them pointed out the student.
They embrace the pressure and enjoy it all, doing it for the love of the game just like they did in high-school. There were 34 calls in the game that night, with Holland beating Hamilton 53-45. Many of those calls were made in key situation’s and many of their no calls were as well. All 34 calls had a impact on the game, swinging it in a different direction with each blow of the whistle. It is those decisions that make being a referee one of the toughest jobs in high-school sports and sports in general.