Several years ago, I decided I needed a diversion from the wintertime darkness, the fact that this diversion offered compensation in exchange for my time sounded wonderful. I spent the winter months officiating young student athletes competing on the basketball hardwood.
These students were looking to develop character and leadership through the avenue of athletics.
They would learn to thrive under pressure, making split second decisions, while also exercising their bodies. Happily, I could be a small part of their success by guiding their understanding of the rules of the game, and sharing their enthusiasm through mutual respect and good sportsmanship.
Even better, each group of youngsters was overseen by a coach who taught them the techniques and strategies relative to the game while also showcasing the ideals of fair play. Unlike during the school day, when all parents are treated as potential distractions, (try entering your child’s school during the day to join the class for a story or a kickball game at recess, without the 7 forms, some needing notarization, you’ll never make it through the door. Even after you are admitted you must wear a visitor badge and a growling lion costume ensuring all children steer clear of your presence) parents are welcome at sporting events, and attend in droves.
Soon I found myself dressed like a zebra, ready to be fed to the lions. It turns out, everyone was there simply to win, and I was an idiot, who was simultaneously preventing both teams from reaching this objective.
Now in fairness, I may have missed a few calls, mainly because everyone kept throwing their two cents in my direction. As I was there to earn some profit, naturally I kept stopping to pick it up. Thankfully, the coaches spent most of their time officiating the game for me, allowing my eyes to be on the lookout for flying coins, while I let my ears do the officiating.
The players, they mostly ran around in chaotic motion, think wildebeests just after the croc erupts from the depths of the water hole. With the coaches jawing nonstop, and the parents still in their lion costumes growling menacingly, the players treated the ball as if it may explode. Fortunately, in the rule book, section 8 article 3 bottom paragraph, it clearly states that, “if you have no clue as to the course of action within the game, blow your whistle and give everyone two thumbs up (this makes them feel successful), then you say jump ball. Award the ball to whichever team seems less agitated, or is closest to your physical presence.”
Sparingly, I made this call every 7.5 seconds or so. Being a basketball official was an exercise in judgment, after memorizing the entire rule book, the last page states; “do not attempt to enforce all rules as written, doing so will cause the elimination of all players prior to halftime, only attempt to enforce 30 percent of the violations (section 2, 5, 7, 8 and 2) and 10 percent of the fouls (Sections 3, 6, 9, and 2).”
Now it took some weeks for me to realize that getting heckled while picking up pairs of pennies wasn’t all I had hoped it would be (the time spent rolling the coins was a ruining my hourly rate). But in reality, these minor annoyances weren’t what caused me to hang up my whistle.
The final straw was that I kept injuring myself. I hear the mocking laughter now, but you try standing motionless for 15 minutes prior to tip-off, at which point you must suddenly sprint from end to end. My Achilles did me in. Quitting however, did not inflict Achilles level pain on my finances.
Smartly, I used the money to pay down dept. Ahh, I wish.
Rather I had been using the $1,500 or so in earnings to slide down mountains covered in flaky frozen water. I had not yet realized how much dept had been weighting me down. Fortunately, I didn’t do something crazy and finance those trips on a credit card, so the damage was minimal.
Now if you find yourself looking to get your finances in order, and you have prior experience as a lion tamer, possibly officiating is a gig you should look into. The money is pretty good, the schedule is flexible, and many people really enjoy being part of the game. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you about the time spent rolling coins.
If you aren’t comfortable around lions, maybe you should just refinance your student loans. Follow my link to refinance with Sofi, and we both get some cash!