The Inadvertent Whistle

   In a high school basketball game (varsity), a referee may blow the whistle some 100 times. If you do 70 varsity games a year, that is about 7,000 whistles, give or take a hundred.

   Over 10 years, that is about 70,000 whistles, not including overtime, subvarsity games and the like. In my 70,000 to 100,000 whistles, I have had an inadvertent whistle one time.

   Did you ever try to unblow a whistle? It is not possible. You cannot unblow a whistle any more than you can unflush a toilet. You just have to let it run its course.

    I know referees who will tell you, "If you blow a whistle, make something up. Don't go with an inadvertent whistle."

   This is not good advice. In high school basketball, the ball just goes back to the team in possession at the point of interruption. The only penalty is to the flow of the game and to the utter humiliation of the whistle blower.

   Nor does the referee "owe" anything to a team against which he has made a bad call or had an inadvertent whistle. A "make-up" call just means you have two bad calls instead of the one that started the mess. The kids get confused and things can get ugly in a hurry.

   So, poor, muscle-bound Ed Hoculi must assume he will hear about his inadvertent whistle in the NFL game last week down to the fourth generation of his children's children. Espn giveth, Espn taketh away. Some sports station will make up a list of "Top Ten Blown Calls" and Ed will get no worse than honorable mention. He will be in the top five, probably.

My Top Five?

5. MIke Renfro caught the ball in the end zone against the Steelers in the AFC championship game but it was ruled OB. Don't remember the year.

4. OU-Oregon, 2006-The replay official was apparently in the restroom the entire time.

3. Super Bowl X-The entire game, the Steelers, the most penalized team in football that year, had 0 Penalties. Look it up.

2. The Immaculate Reception-Under the rules, the ball could not have been completed and run by a member of the Steelers. Yes, I loathe the Steelers (see above) but the officials caved to mere fear for their own lives if they overruled the run.

1. Vince Young in the Rose Bowl against USC-Vince was the greatest college QB ever and I love the 'Horns. I don't know if they would have scored anyway or won the game but his knee was down on his pitch to Charles in the second quarter. He was down, period.

   This Top Five just touches football. There are a zillion other examples. The human element comes in to play with refereeing and the kids are bigger, faster and stronger each year. Things happen quickly.

   If the referee involved has a monetary interest like Tim Donahay, or an ego thing like Joey Crawford or is just lazy, he/she ought to get off the court/field until such time as he/she learns to control himself for the good of the game.

   Understand, all this has to happen while some coach screams at you, some fellow in the stands who could not get up/down the court one time is critiquing your call and you are tryng to watch ten kids, or 12 or 22, depending on the sport. Rules change from year to year, interpretations change, emphases change and you have to stay on top of it.

   Try it yourself. I watched guys and girls call for years and thought, "I could do better than that." Now, I try to do basketball each year, try to be consistent, try not to take anything personally, try not to be a prima donna, try to give each coach/kid respect.

   It is harder than it looks.

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