Friday, April 12, 2013

Another "bad guy" gets away

Special thanks to John U. for bringing this one forward.

So with March madness safely behind us, I was mildly interested in basketball for a bit, but am over it now.

One thing I am not over though is the resignation of Ed Rush as PAC 12 Director if Officials.

Now for any who follow basketball, or referees, you likely know who Ed Rush is. For those who do not, he served as a referee in the NBA at age 26 (the youngest ever at the time), and eventually after a storied on court career, became the NBA director if officials from 1998 to 2003. In 2007 Mr. Rush started consulting with PAC 12, and became their Director Of Officials in May of 2012.

As has been reported in a variety of places, Mr. Rush "bullied" officials, and offered "$5,000 and a trip to Cancun" if they called a technical foul on Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats. My immediate reaction was somewhat bemused, until I found out he chose (or was forced) to retire his position after "an anonymous official" at the internal presentation felt "threatened" by the comment, and fans and the media swarmed at the inference of impropriety.

Earth to the "anonymous official":
You're never going to make it in the big leagues ... or even the college game for that matter.
Put on some big boy pants and try something else.

Earth to the media who helped cause the resignation:
Keep doing what you are doing. You are fools, and keep me "employed" as a blogger.

Now assuming momentarily that the comment was actually spoken, and I believe it was, as several officials in attendance corroborated it to be true ... what fool takes that seriously?

You would think it is an NFL team paying for players to hurt other players. While both on the surface are ludicrous, do we really think this was anything more than a joke, or a way to make a point, when discussed in such an open forum?

Of course not.

Does anyone out there, including the "official" who needs to don his adult pants think that discussions about "problem players" or "problem coaches" is inappropriate?

How many times as an official, or a parent, or as a spectator something like, "ooh I'd like to ..."? 

A rope, a tree, let's hang the ... Heard that one? Why are these people allowed to go on?

Lets go back to problem players. This conversation happens all the time, and yes, names are named in the big leagues ... and in the little leagues too folks.

Well this seems unfair you grouse ... somehow inappropriate and all.

Well how do all you people who clammer for match control think it's going to happen? Just let it unfold in front of all of our eyes and take a guess at what might happen next? Just react without a plan? Do you actually think that referees put some thought into managing the people behind the uniform and how to effectively deal with them to manage the match as a whole?

Let me take a soccer example. A former coach of the NE Revolution who was a tremendous player was particularly boisterous on the touchline. Not nasty, not foul (in the normal sense of the word), but always challenging, always pushing, and crossed the line several times.

As a younger 4th official in the league, I would have to regularly deal with him, and enjoyed the challenge as I saw through what he was doing and have (to this day) immense respect for him as a person. Guess what though, there were strategies we discussed to help us all manage the match. Most of the time they worked too.

Did my knowledge and discussion, sometimes in a joking way ("oh we'll have to send him this match") somehow get interpreted as "we need to take that action"?

Of course not ... it's just hyperbole to make a point.

Same thing here folks, it was clearly just a way to make a point.

Don't believe me? Fine.

Ask the other officials in attendance what they thought (which was done by the head of security for the PAC 12) ... and guess what, NO ONE ELSE TOOK IT SERIOUSLY.

Note to official big boy pants ... you stand alone.

What is truly sad is that something (or someone) so stupid serves to topple the career of someone who can do some real good in that situation.

By all accounts Ed was agressive in his pursuit of making these officials better, and anyone who really, really wants to be good at that craft needs to be able to get brutally honest to be able to do so.

Ed was that guy and this is a loss for the PAC 12.

By the way, internet mogul Mark Cuban was reported as saying, circa Jan. 8, 2002: "Ed Rush might have been a great ref, but I wouldn’t hire him to manage a Dairy Queen. His interest is not in the integrity of the game or improving the officiating ..." and some have reported is gleeful at the report of Ed's resignation.

That's okay ... I don't hold Mr. Cuban out as much of an athlete anyway. He to me is much more akin to an athletic supporter, like most fan(atics) who choose his path of dumping on good people.

After all of this, the one who was held out as a bad actor to make a point, Sean Miller, I am certain will get "kid gloves" treatment in the days ahead in a feigned attempt to avoid any "impropriety."



  1. "After all of this, the one who was held out as a bad actor to make a point, Sean Miller, I am certain will get "kid gloves" treatment in the days ahead in a feigned attempt to avoid any 'impropriety.' "

    Unfortunately that is probably true. However if I were officiating his next game, the very first thing I would say to him as he walked onto the court would be something along these lines: "Hi Sean, I hope you misbehave tonight, because I am really looking forward to that free trip to Cancun." Now, do you think I will have any problems from Mr. Miller in that game?? I think not.

    1. I strongly agree ... you may even get a laugh ... from his assistaint.

      Player management is a beautiful thing.


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  3. You're dead wrong, and if you'd quit (sucking up to) Ed Rush long enough, you'd realize that a person in his position must be above reproach, for the integrity of the game. Professional tennis - where I have reached the highest levels of officiating - demands that of its top officials. Any supervisor, referee, or umpire acting as Rush had would have been fired immediately, not after an uproar. Whether someone can "take a joke" is irrelevant to professionalism and integrity. In professional officiating, certain topics are not even suitable for jokes. If one wishes to discuss man management, do it professionally and without hyperbole. A stronger, better, more qualified supervisor of officials could have done so. Rush was clearly not up for the job.


    1. Thanks for the comment Frank ... I've lightly edited it for the kids that post and read here.

      Your point is a good one, but I do disagree with it in the mainstream. I would also speculate (and that is all that it is) tennis and golf may be somewhat sui generis in this regard. On the court or the course, or even the field, I agree with you (again mostly) that there is a level of decorum that must be maintained, and in some cases tradition of the sport demands that.

      Heck, even announcers at Agusta National get suspended fore saying phrases like "bikini-wax" in reference to greens. While I think this is way too up tight, it is tradition and is followed to the blade of grass by those folks.

      Tennis may be similar in that regard where any dissent or hyperbole is frowned on.

      One thing I consider is the level of contact with the players in these sports ... which would on the surface to seem relatively light at best. In soccer, basketball, football ... there is a significant amount of regular management that needs to go on ... far, far more than some other sports.

      Does that make officiating these sports any easier ... nope, not at all. But it does bring to bear a significantly different management tool set.

      Professionalism includes giving and taking jokes, knowing when, and when not to. Granted Ed may have misplaced that one ... most don't think so including me ... but to interpret that even as an inference to conduct the act and raise it as an issue demonstrates an inflexibility that any good official can not have. I will share a personal opinion and state that few good leaders are so inflexible when it comes to managing a situation.

      Officials are humans, and the more we dehumanize them by not allowing them to emote, the less effective I think they will be.

      I was at the highest level (domestically) of the sport too, and my job was to manage egos and foibles that we all have. I crossed lots of lines and was very successful doing it, because at the very end of the day the individuals behind the uniforms appreciated being treated treated with respect and like humans, not automatons.

      Thanks for reading, and the good comment.