Calling all officials
Niagara District Basketball Referees Association president Kevin Moore. Photo by: BILL POTRECZ.
Age is becoming the enemy of the Niagara District Basketball Referees Association.
“Our average age is getting older,” NDBRA president Kevin Moore said. “If you look at the high-end officials, guys who are doing college and university, we’re all 57-61. There’s not a lot of young guys out there. We have a few who are going to be good, at the same time, even our lower-end officials are older. Our population is getting old.”
With that as backdrop, Moore said the association is on the hunt for young officials.
“If we took on anywhere between seven to 10 quality young people, that would be phenomenal,” Moore said. “We’re trying to find a way to get some young people in.”
Moore said the association is going to change the way they train officials.
“We’re going to get them on the court more rather than watching film and going through rule books which people don’t retain anyway. After 20 minutes, you’re not really learning anything,” he said. “We want to try and grab some young people and retain them so five years down the road they are still referring for us.
“We need some young people to come in and step up to the plate.”
Moore said officials are needed more than ever now in Niagara for a couple of other reasons as well.
“When you get an organization like Brian Bleich and Mike Hurley run with the Pelham Panthers, they are getting tournament after tournament after tournament coming in on weekends, we’re just having trouble filling spots,” he said.
Another factor is the abuse officials take.
“It’s not just basketball. It’s also soccer and it’s been going on for years with hockey. We had to deal with some major ones this year,” Moore said. “Fines were imposed and sanctions put in place. That part is getting out of control and it’s not just here. It’s everywhere. It’s happening all over the place.
“To get young officials in and be strong enough to have that outdoor coating on them to deflect that kind of criticism, from fans especially — you can deal with a coach easier than a fan — it’s hard on young people’s mentality and their egos and some of them pack it in.”
Moore has noticed most problems come from the parents of younger players.
“They seem to think their son is going to the NBA or daughter to the WNBA,” he said. “They are the worst ones to deal with.”
Moore, who is in his 25th year of officiating, admits it is a daunting challenge to wear the pinstripes.
“It’s not as easy as it looks. There is so much to learn. The rule book is very complex and thick and then you put on top of that mechanics and signals and dealing with parents and coaches. There is a lot. It’s totally different on the other side of the whistle.”
Courses start in September. Interested parties can sign up for on line at http://ndbra.com.
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