Experts in the stands

    Guest Posts on County 10 are provided by contributors and the opinions, thoughts, and comments within are their own and may not necessarily reflect those of County 10.

    Two of the areas of emphasis among basketball officials nationwide this season were the player control foul, and the second was fan behavior.

    If you watched high school basketball this season, you probably noticed an increase in the number of player control fouls, commonly called the charge by most fans, it is the most controversial of calls.


    Did the defender move while the offensive player was in the air? Did they lean? Did the offensive player throw a forearm on the way by, did someone set a hard screen, or move their feet, lean, or push as a defender came by? These decisions were all made in the blink of an eye.

    The signal was both hands on the hip for a block, or a punch in the air, or among older officials a hand behind the head to indicate an offensive foul.

    The emphasis didn’t change play very much. If you watched the Wind River boys this season, with their blitzkrieg style “Chaos” offense, especially in the early moments of a game, you’ve seen how little a player control foul changes play. In a regular season game at Shoshoni, the Cougars were whistled for four player control fouls in the first five minutes of the game, and they kept coming, like a herd of buffalo charging headlong across the prairie.

    The funny thing about basketball, as compared to football or even baseball, is how the fan views a call.


    If the left guard jumps offsides nine times in a row, the official will throw the flag nine times, the offending team will back up five yards each time, or half the distance to the goal if they’re inside the five-yard line. The fans don’t scream at the officials to stop calling the offside infraction, or better yet, scream to “even it up,” they just groan, throw their hands up in disgust and yell at the offending player, as long as it isn’t their son.

    In baseball, an umpire can call 16 consecutive balls, not just loading the bases, but walking in a run. There will be a few whiny comments about inside or outside, high, or low pitches, but overall, they realize their pitcher just doesn’t have it today, and once again, shout at the player, as long as it isn’t their son.

    But in basketball, a team can press, push, hand check, undercut, and play an interior, physical style games and generate fouls quickly. The other squad can work the perimeter, not drive, take outside shots, and play a static zone defense, and when the foul count is 9-0 or 10-3, the geniuses in the stands will start yelling “Even it out.”


    Five years ago, in a Class 1-A state tournament game at Casper College, I heard an Upton fan screaming “Even it up ref.” The foul count was six to five at the time.

    Though I shouldn’t have, I turned around, made eye contact with the guy, and said, “Are you for real, six to five?”

    Without missing a beat, the guy said, “They’ve got to keep it under control, keep it fair.”


    Fan behavior is worse than ever. I’ve witnessed some real gems in the bleachers this season.

    To be clear, it’s not the officials’ job to keep the foul count even.

    Technical fouls among players are on the rise as well, no doubt in deference to their moms and dads, true role models (where is the sarcasm font?) who quickly lose their minds when their prize boy or girl commits the slightest infraction.

    At the regional tournament, officials stopped the game, called over an administrator, and had a fan escorted off campus during the Wind River / Kemmerer opening round boys game. He received a few misguided cheers from the Cougar fans who obviously had no idea of how basketball is played but were proud to display what they didn’t know.

    In a pig-tail game played at Worland the Monday before the regional tournament, two Ten Sleep players received technical fouls in the second half, one for taunting an opponent and the other for profanity.

    If you watched the Ten Sleep High School principal sitting at mid-court it was no surprise the boys would act that way. An official stopped play early in the second period to warn the principal and told him one more comment and he’d be thrown out of the gym. Not just a role model, but one paid to be there, simply magnificent.

    In the Riverton High School lobby, two 11-year-olds got into a fistfight during the Shoshoni / St. Stephen’s game. That’s right, 11-year-olds, they start bad behavior young these days.

    Lovell fans have been tossed, a couple of guys from Ten Sleep at a regular season game in Basin against Riverside got an early exit from the game, but the worst so far came at Wolverine Gym.

    Kelly Walsh came out pounding Wolverines. Each time a Riverton player took a shot, he was hammered, sometimes by two defenders. Each time they crossed the court, they were hip checked or openly shoved. The foul count quickly ratcheted up to 9-0 in favor of the Wolverines as it should have.

    Meanwhile, the score jumped to 13-2, also in Riverton’s favor.

    A couple of very vocal fans started getting out of control. Riverton administrators confronted them, even sitting next to them for a while, but it didn’t abate the behavior.

    The game turned out to be a great one, with Riverton and Kelly Walsh going into overtime after being tied at 41.

    It wasn’t great to one clueless spectator. A former Riverton coach, with a grandson playing for Kelly Walsh, he lost it as the game ended, chasing the officials down the far hall toward their locker room while screaming how they’d cheated the Kelly Walsh kids.

    Rightfully, he ended up being escorted off campus by a Riverton police officer. Hopefully, he’s been banned statewide for a long time.

    All this behavior is ridiculous. Sure, we all support our kids, but it’s just a game, and not a single official gets up in the morning and dreams of screwing over a bunch of kids later that day at a ballgame. It does not happen.

    What does happen is the official is leaving his family, often driving for hours to get to a game on dangerous winter roads, earning a little money in the process, and then doing it all again the next day.

    My advice to the morons in the stands, the ones who always blame the officials, and cry “Refs game” after their team loses is to buy a striped shirt, a pair of black pants, and a whistle and sign on with your local officials’ association.

    It’s time to share all the expertise you display in the stands by becoming an official. Here is a link where you can apply.


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