Are you That Fan?

Are you the one yelling out for a three-second violation call every trip down the floor? Or maybe you’re the one screaming for a travel whenever a player goes up for a layup. Or perhaps the one hollering for the officials to call something, only to plead with them to let them play on the other end of the court.

If you are, here’s another suggestion for you.

Zip it.

Nobody cares. No one is impressed that you read up on the rules the day before the game and now consider yourself the resident Naismith of the Civic Center, or Cross Insurance Center, or the Cross Insurance Arena, or any other gym for that matter. You’re not enlightening anyone by pointing out that No. 25’s pivot foot shuffled a bit before passing out of the trap.

You’re the construction going on below the bedroom window at 7 in the morning. You’re the movie-goer in a packed theater predicting what’s going to happen next. Nobody wants to hear that. Nobody wants to hear you.

And yet, if you are That Fan, you keep showing up come high school basketball tournament time and poisoning everyone’s experience while watching these games, many of which are thrilling and tense. You’ve already shown up this year. We’ve heard you. How could we not?

“She’s walking every time, ref!”

“That’s a push-off, ref!”

“You’re allowed to go for the ball, ref!”

Ugh.

Here’s the thing. You’re likely wrong. No, that’s not a charge, the defender shuffled before contact. No, that’s not a backcourt violation, the ball glanced off the defender’s hand. And no, that wasn’t a travel, that was a jab step (this really happened once. Don’t expect to see that caterwauler coaching anytime soon).

These officials have watched more games than you have. They’ve studied this game more intensely than you have. You think they don’t know the rule you’ve made your bone to pick du jour? You expect them to give you a thumbs up, a thank you and to start calling the game differently?

And yet, That Fan keeps showing up. He (or she) hit a new low last year. The Old Orchard Beach girls basketball team traveled to the Augusta Civic Center for the Class C South final, a matchup against Monmouth Academy. It wasn’t close. The Mustangs stomped the Seagulls, 65-25. The game was a runaway from the opening minutes. The teams didn’t belong on the same court that day.

It was evident to everyone in the arena. That Fan saw things differently.

“It’s OK Old Orchard,” That Fan announced. “You didn’t know you’d have to play the refs, too!”

Tough act to follow. But That Fan has been trying. During the C South girls semifinal between Richmond and Monmouth, someone apparently got bored with the routine fare of begging for travels and offensive three seconds.

“Come on, ref!” That Fan hollered. “That’s a hand check!”

A hand check? It’s got to stop.

To be clear, I’m not talking about the fan that is engaged and in the moment, sees an infraction supposedly occur and gets up in arms about it. That’s just being a fan. That’s part of the live sports-watching experience.

This is, rather, about the fan that takes it upon him or herself to be the watchdog, who brings up the same point over and over again, whose goal is as much to ride the officials as demonstrate to all in attendance his or her basketball acumen.

Cut it out. You let the players play and the coaches coach, as the pledge goes. It also tells you to let the officials officiate. What, you think two out of three ain’t bad?

I’ll admit, there’s a degree of hypocrisy here. After the Madison and Mt. Abram girls C South quarterfinal game, one that featured whistle after whistle on trip after trip down the floor, I commented in our daily wrap-up that I thought the officiating was too tight and that I thought it drained much of the flow and excitement from the game.

In my defense, I was speaking more about the degree of the officiating rather than the officials’ ability, and I wasn’t hollering my opinion to all corners of the arena. But if this is an example where one should practice what he preaches, fair enough.

The truth is that the constant bellyaching should stop. It’s never productive and always annoying. If you’re That Fan, focus your energy somewhere else. Encourage your players, and root for your team. Isn’t that why you paid the money at the gate?

“You’ve got to call it both ways, ref!”

Enough.

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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