I'm not that old and I'm not that young, but I remember the days when I didn't know the names of the refs or the umpires. I long for those days... Through all my years of watching and following sports, I've learned the names of a few - the respected, the notorious, and the history making.
An example of the respected is, Dick Bavetta. I came to "know" by watching him on TV and seeing him in action. I've never met him, but I respect the way he carries himself and I was amused with his personality when he agreed to race Charles Barkley up and down the court over All-Star Weekend. I was in Las Vegas during the race and ALL the TV's switched to the race. It was awesome and I can still hear the crowd cheer when Dick Bavetta dove at the end. I've never met Dick Bavetta ~ but he seems like a good guy.
Here's a video of the hyping up the Charles Barkley vs. Dick Bavetta race from the 2007 NBA All-Star Weekend:
Here's the actual race:
An example of the notorious would be Tim Donaghy. If you don't know who he is, then you don't follow professional basketball and you should probably click the link. Now I recognize that with the degree of interaction of among coaches, players and referees that there can be tension. However, should I really know the names Steve Javie, Joe DeRosa, etc.?
An example of history making referee is Violet Palmer. She was the first African-American, female to referee an NBA game.
I did a quick google search using the terms: terrible NBA referees and this post by Bill Simmons came up. In it he mentions Joe DeRosa and Bennett Salvatore. We all know about Joe DeRosa, since he recently received a one-game suspension after throwing a basketball at a fan. As for Bennett Salvatore, I'm going to include Simmons' quote here for your convenience:
To quote Bill Simmons' post, "Bennett Salvatore -- Always one of the worst, he took it to another level this season. If you see him on the court at the start of the game, get ready for about six technicals, two near-brawls and both coaches having to be restrained by their assistants at various times."
I realize those are only basketball examples, but we all know there are baseball ones also. Today I was watching Pardon the Interruption and earlier in the week I was watching SportsCenter. I keep seeing and hearing about Umpire Joe West, Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle, and Chicago White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen. I watched the clip and the Buehrle's move that was called a "balk". I saw both Buehrle and Guillen get tossed. Now I'm not going to argue whether Buehrle's move was a balk or not, but I keep asking myself why I even know Joe West's name. Alright already. He's an umpire. Umpires and referees need to do their jobs and stop trying to steal the spotlight and make situations about them. That's just my 2 cents.
Earlier in the year I went to an NBA game and I saw a ref throwing souvenir balls into the crowd. This was surprising to me, since I remember the days in the tunnel when the walkways cleared since the refs were going to pass through. The refs were more or less sequestered in their own locker room like jurors, and I'm sure that helped to maintain their objectivity. There should be no personal bias between officials and players.
But hey, that's just my 2 cents... Seriously? Are we going to be able to buy officiating jerseys with referee and umpires names on them soon? Are the referees and umpires going to get trading cards and their own shoes now? Just saying. Alright, I'm going to wrap up this post since I want to download all of Cowboy Joe West's music tracks... What?!?! You do, too?!?! Ok - here you go: http://www.cowboyjoewest.com/
Lastly, if anyone can tell me why the NFL referees sport "candy-striper" (i.e. red and white) uniforms at times, drop me a note. I'm sincerely interested in the explanation.