Sometimes officiating can be a very lonely avocation with little support.
So where can your crew find that "support"? What can you do? Sometimes that for which you are searching is right in front of you, at "the table."
How many times has an official complained about the table? "Those People at the table were bad, and jerks too!" The people at the scorer's table can be your best allies if you cultivate relations with them.
Fans often act like officials are "things" that come out of the ground before a contest; afterward, the ground again swallows them until the next game. If people don't respect each other, establishing good relationships is not likely. When someone has complained about the table, were those at the table thought of as people, or were they thought of as a collective group known as "the table?" They are people and must be respected as such before you can cultivate relationships with them. Aside from having the people at the table just doing their jobs, they can provide friendly smiles and light moments when you need breaks from the stresses of the competition, if you have cultivated good relationships with them. You need them to be willing and in their best frames of mind to provide accurate information when you must determine if the shot was before expiration of time, if the bonus is in effect or depend on them to share "what really happened."
What to do? Officiating is simply a sales job in which you observe the plays and sell your decisions to everyone. That requires good positioning good judgment, good mechanics and good people skills. Might you be hurrying to your position for warm-ups, visiting with your partners, greeting the coaches, breezing by the table with a pleasant hello and beginning the game? Whoa! Building relationships with the people at the table must begin prior to the contest. If you want them on your side when you need them, you must hold the people at the table in high regard. It can be likened to the old saying, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." It is imperative for the people at the table to feel they and the jobs they do are integral parts of the contest and are important.
Before other pregame duties consume too much of your time, respectfully introduce yourself, review related procedures for the event, get to know them a little; let them know you are "a regular person" who is interested in them. During the game, make sure to stay in touch with them. Stop by the table when time allows and communicate with them by keeping them informed and ready. You never know when you may need them.
Written by Dave Carlsrad, Valley City, N.D., the assistant executive secretary of the North Dakota High School Activities Association.