You Called It, Ref!

12:48 AM Theophilus Mensah 0 Comments

Let it be known I may burn at the stake and by that I mean be a target but I don’t care anymore; not after recent events. I think it is time the player spoke out as well.

I love the game of basketball; ask my sore knees and severally twisted ankles. They’ll vouch for me. I love competing because I get to see just how good I am and it turns out I’m not half bad. So everything should be a piece of cake on the court huh? Wrong! This is the part I stick my face into a cold bucket of water and scream till my lungs get filled.

My growing problem when it comes to playing basketball is the referees in the division one series of men’s basketball in the Accra Basketball League.  Now, I am no wuss and I sure as hell don’t like to make excuses when playing. You can foul me hard but as long as I had a good look at the rim and did not score after, I’d wave it off because you’ve got to be tough. As you read this, I’ve had one of the roughest games ever; I got three elbows to the mouth, two head butts to my stomach, two slaps and a scratch on my face. I look beautiful if you are wondering. What I am not happy about is I did not even receive a single call when these acts were committed in the plain sight of the referees.

One of them actually took the whistle out of his mouth and told my opponent to “stop the nonsense” or he would call a foul. My point is, it had already happened and no call was made because the referee didn’t feel like it. Whining you say? Maybe, but there comes a time in a man’s life when he’s got to do what he’s got to do and at this time it’s to whine like I’m Goldilocks running from the three bears.

The referees watched as I was hacked and bashed so hard even Freddy Krueger would have felt sorry for me. They brushed it off like you would a fly. However, touching the opponent or even grazing them led to calls that were raining harder than a hailstorm. The fans at Lebanon House saw it all, some were livid, some were obviously enthused about it and I just wanted to run over some officials with a tractor.

It’s their sense of power and entitlement that really grinds my gears. Referees shouldn’t be biased but they made their allegiance evident; it did not help that my coach called them out and challenged some of their procedures. It just added to it all. How many times has somebody been given a bit of power and abused it? Too many times, too many times. It happens across the country so naturally it has to manifest in a basketball match.

They started calling fouls where there weren’t any. One time, a teammate found the ball in his possession and on jumping seemed to have hit a wall in the air.  The crowd shouted “and 1” after the foul, the referee said travel… Sacré bleu! Now my tirade is almost over and let me make it clear it is 80% of the referees that seem to be this way. I play pickup with the other 20%, they’re cool. 

In all honesty, we have a problem with our game officials in the league. Just ask anyone who plays in it and gets on their bad side. Just like our smartphones need updates to function properly, these guys need to be updated too because their glitches are harming the game. I heard the league wanted to do things differently and change for the better this year, I wonder if these referees need a hint.

Written by David Maja Salako (@Linkingwordz)

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