Published December 5, 1942
It was twenty-two years ago that I stopped off between trains to watch a high school basketball game at Plymouth, Indiana, and wound up—when the regutar official failed to show up—being pressed into service as referee. Since then, averaging fifty games a year from crossroads high schoots through Big Ten games and seven Indiana state-final tournaments, I’ve blown my whistle about 30,000 times and run about 3000 miles on hardwood floors. But I still haven’t seen everything. There’s no limit to the things that can happen in a basketball game.
There was the lowly last-minute sub who dashed in determined to save the day, only to find, when he peeled off his sweat pants, that he had neglected to put on his playing trunks. Once an overwrought boy rushed up to me and insisted in all seriousness that the other team was using seven men. And I’ll never forget the time our own dean, acting as timekeeper, thrust his gun under the table to end a game, and blew a hole through his new hat.
Before one 1934 state tournament battle, a coach asked the other official and myself to keep a sharp eye on the opposing team. “They have a trick of knocking the ball out of a man’s hands as he gets ready to put it in play from out of bounds,” he said, “to give themselves time to cover up.”
If so, a technical foul should be called. Not being given to pre-game statements of policy, however, we just told the coach to wait and see.
Right off the bat, the ball went out of bounds. Sure enough, a player brought it up to the side line to throw it in, and swipe! the ball was batted from his hands. Dutifully, we blew our whistle and slapped on a technical foul. There was juat one detail that wasn’t according to the scenario. The boy who committed the foul was on the team of the coach who had done all the squawking before the game.