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Best officials used in intramural championships

BY ETHAN SEBERT | APRIL 06, 2010 7:30 AM

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Only the best intramural teams are left in their quest for an All-University title. And with championship teams comes championship officiating.

In any sport, the intensity escalates as the regular season ends and postseason begins.
That translates to an increase in emotional investment, which consequentially puts stress on referees — something Recreational Services is well aware of. It instructs its officials accordingly.

“[Criticizing officials is] expected because sports is an emotional activity,” said Mike Widen, an associate director of Recreational Services.

He and the rest of the staff trains intramural officials to handle almost any situation that comes up.

The training takes place before the start of the regular season of each sport and continues throughout the season.

“You’re constantly building your skills as a ref,” sophomore intramural referee Erin Walsh said. “You don’t know you’re doing anything wrong unless somebody tells you.”

Widen said all of the intramural officials are evaluated at least twice during the season by members of the intramural staff, which includes seven student supervisors and two graduate assistants.

Besides the evaluations, the intramural staff is also responsible for overseeing all of the intramural events, as well as listening and responding to complaints. The evaluations, complaints, and other specific situations are discussed at weekly meetings.

The intramural staff uses the evaluations to decide which officials will work during the playoffs, hoping to get the best officials to call the most important games.

“They pick whoever has the best understanding of the rules,” said Walsh, who is in her second year of officiating intramural basketball. “Most times, that’s going to be the veteran officials.”

Intramural sports employs 42 referees during the regular basketball season. But during the playoffs, the number is cut to 23.

In order to officiate during the playoffs, referees must do well in their evaluations, attend a pre-playoffs meeting, and complete a basketball-related test.

“As they get closer to the end, it’s the top officials working,” Widen said. “We know enough about officiating where we know who the best officials are.”

Intramural graduate assistant Daniel Payne agreed with Widen.

“We’re a pretty good judge of talent,” he said. “I think we do well. Even into the playoffs, we’re still evaluating.”

The playoff evaluations are important because the intramural staff wants to have the best officials working the championship games.

Even though they’ll have their best officials working during the intramural basketball postseason, the intramural staff said — as with any sport — they won’t be able to prevent questioning of calls.

However, they’ll welcome any student trying to hone her or his officiating skills.

“We’ll teach them everything they need to know,” Payne said. “It’s all about them wanting to learn.”



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