Saturday, February 21, 2009

February 20, 2009

(For those of you who don't know, I work as the Public Address Announcer in the OUA for men's and women's basketball. This is a submission I posted to a discussion list that I'm part of)

I feel compelled to post to the list on a topic that has been brewing with me all season. I understand the timing on this may be less than ideal considering the end of the season is fast approaching, but I feel the points are valid nonetheless. While I may refer to specific examples, this issue is based on an overall observation of behaviour throughout the course of the season.

The topic I need to discuss is the scorer's table. As many of you know, I have worked as a public address announcer for close to a decade now, so I've worked with a lot of officials at the scorer's table. And they are just that, officials of the game. These men and women (mostly students) are hard-working and dedicated individuals who work in every arena. It's become painfully apparent that some fans, coaches, players, and others simply don't understand the appropriate and inappropriate ways to interact with the scorer's table.

I'll go on further about that below, but to illustrate my point, I need to share a recent example.

(To the individual who I'm referring to in this anecdote, I've elected to not use your name. The point is your behaviour, not who you are. It's just as relevant if you were a random fan.)

Last week, at a game I was broadcasting for Rogers TV, we were seated beside the visitor's bench, with the fans for the visiting team relatively close behind us. At one point in the game, there was a scoring discrepancy, where the scoreboard operator had inadvertently awarded a basket to the wrong team. One of the visiting team's fans began screaming at the scorer's table, to the point of disrupting the broadcast since it was being picked up on our headset microphones. The coaching staff approached the table to ask, the problem was discovered, the officials were called over, and the game was stopped while the error was corrected. This individual continued screaming at the table the entire time, even while the problem was being fixed. Furthermore, this individual continued to scream (I'm not exaggerating when I say screaming. If you see a tape of the broadcast, you hear every word and the tone and volume.) about other issues that they had with the scorer's table, like yelling at them that the scoreboard wasn't properly displaying the correct players on the floor at that specific time, or yelling `BUZZ THEM!' to end the other team's time out.

I can't state this clearly enough.

This is completely inappropriate.

Human beings make mistakes, they happen. But to scream at people (generally students) at the scorer's table is not the way to handle it. Generally coaches or referees will spot the problem, but in the incredibly rare instance where you are the ONLY PERSON in attendance who has noticed this error (sarcasm fully intended), the proper way to handle it is to inform a coach and they will interact with the scorer's table. Fans interacting with the scorer's table only interferes with their ability to focus on their job for the game, which in turn could lead to more errors. Nobody, including you, wants this.

Now, having given that specific instance, the major point I have, which I've already mentioned, is the treatment of the people at the scorer's table. Some of the problems I've seen would fall under the category of abuse, and some would fall under the category of a simple unawareness of who to deal with.

Examples I've seen recently are (but not limited to):

- Coaching staff or trainers asking the scorer's table for cups, 15 seconds before the game is scheduled to start. Do you really think this is the place to ask? As opposed to Event Staff?

- Coaches being upset that their players weren't buzzed into a game as a substitution when the official scorer didn't know they were waiting to come in since they didn't report to the front of the table. For the record, and I think it's embarrassing that this still needs to be clarified, all players should report to the center of the scorer's table to sub into the game, not crouch down at the end where the scorer can't see you.

- Coaches requesting a time-out and not being awarded the time out since they did not get it in to the scorer's table in time. To blame the scorer's table for a late time-out request is inappropriate. Also, to clarify, the request "Time out if they score" is not a valid request. This is a requested time-out as any other and will be granted on the next eligible stoppage of play. If you want to only call time out if the opposition scores, the smartest thing I've seen coaches do is to stand close to the scorer's table and tell them "I'm going to call a time-out if they score." That way, when the other team scores and you call your time-out, it is heard and awarded promptly. And if there happens to be a stoppage for an out-of-bounds call or something similar, you have not wasted your time-out.

I can't stress it enough, these are officials, and deserve the same respect that would be granted to any other officials. Please keep in mind the effort and dedication that these individuals put forth in each and every game throughout a basketball season. Verbal abuse of any form is completely unacceptable and is quite frankly an embarrassment for anyone who would choose to act in that manner.

As a public address announcer, I'm not an official. I'm just a guy who talks. So if you feel compelled to yell at someone for something, yell at me. Odds are I'll yell back. But at least you aren't interfering with the game. The world won't end if I miss announcing a basket or a foul.

Don't abuse the scorer's table.

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