Let me tell you my policy. First, I believe the rule book is the authority for basketball. Second, I believe an official is the judge on the floor, making the application of that rule book. The authority of the referee cannot be questioned but his errors in properly applying the rule book are subject to question. Third, I believe that the referee will make errors, sometimes because of incompetence, other times based upon human frailty, and at times based upon total subjectivity. I personally want a strict construction of the rule book the least affected by emotions. I desire a cerebral referee that applies the rules according to original intent. According to basketball tradition, the coach comments to an official within reason with the purpose of helping him make the correct call as the rules apply to his team. Most games I ask the referees how much he will allow me to talk to him. Every official is different. Some have a zero tolerance policy. Others permit latitude. Some say that they will let me know if I go over the line and they will expect me to behave accordingly. My belief about this is that since the referee is officiating the game, then I will follow whatever guidelines he provides with the understanding that he will tell me if I am violating his authority and that he will tell me, even call a technical foul. I end every game making sure that I have a good relationship with the officials. I don't know of any of them that did not like me before they left the court.
This is exactly the policy expressed separately to me by the commissioner of our little Christian sports league, Mr. Dalton Abshire. He says that he wants the boys to play hard and develop toughness. He wants spirit and enthusiasm out of them. He understands that the coaches will display this too, but should keep their spirit under the restraint of the officials on the court. He thinks that coaches can yell at the referees in the context of the game as long and as loud as the referee permits. I agree with him.
Some coaches have their own way of pestering officials. They complain in a different way that is permissible to them. They do talk to the refs and even pressure them to alter their calls. However, they will rarely raise their voices during a game. These same coaches often do not yell at their players. They believe that players should be spoken to privately about violations, not publically. I am fine with that kind of dealing with a player, although I do not think that this kind of coaching will help players as much as some yelling and a strong, verbal push on them. One coach complained at half time to a referee privately that he was allowing me to get away with the way I was speaking to him. After half time, that official came to me to tell me (laughing) what that coach had told him about me. That official knew what I was doing and he was fine with it. Some people believe it is always wrong to publically disagree with an official. They think it should always be private.
I believe that a basketball game is like war to some degree. It is a battle. Emotion is involved. Often the games are loud. People are shouting. The court is relatively large so it can be difficult to hear. I think officials should be reminded when they are making the wrong call. I like to let them know immediately, right when I see it. I don't think this means I have to challenge every single call. However, I do think it is within my rights to do this and to do it with good conscience. I have good conscience most of the time about what I do. The few times I haven't, I apologized to the referee. I don't believe there is a verse in Scripture that says it is wrong to do this.
My own opinion is that the judgments made against this by others fit within a realm of some kind of political correctness and even feminizing of men in America. People want almost all men to become soft spoken. There are those that have introduced some kind of pseudo-sportsmanship that takes the intensity and enthusiasm out of the sport. I don't want to be emasculated by critics. I don't want to cow-tow to someone's preferences. Sometimes I really do believe that it is nothing more than sour grapes about losing. I would be a much better sport if we had a little more pansy or dainty quality and that transferred to the players. The losing coach is usually very popular with the winning one.
I believe that as long as the referee will permit it, that I am not abusing his authority. I don't believe that I am setting a wrong example to my players about respect of authority. I tell my players that is not in their right to question the officials. I train them to stay quiet and they are especially fine with that, knowing that I will question the calls against us that I do not think are correct. I have had a few games in which I have said very little during a game. Those were good officials. I respect them highly. My degree of respect relates to their competency and objectivity.
I personally believe that this is an application of Biblical principles in which two brethren should be able to differ. I think I should be able to question an officials calls without this being called unChristian. Nothing in the Bible makes an explicit statement with this regards. I don't even think it should be considered a bad testimony. That is something often thrown out to a Christian coach, that his challenge of a bad call was a bad testimony. I don't believe so. I think there is a place in the game for a coaches challenge of an official's call and that nearly every referee expects it. When a referee tells me I am getting too vociferous, I always respect him and ratchet back my commentary. Someone may not believe that this is the right thing for him, and I am fine if he doesn't want to do it. I, however, plan on continuing.
Let me know what you think! RIGHT NOW!!!