NEWS BLOG (WSAU) Legendary basketball coach John Wooden died last week at 99.
He’ll be remembered for his championship teams at UCLA, for being Kareen Abdul-Jabbar’s college coach, and for his 88-game winning streak.
I’m too young to remember Coach Wooden’s teams. But I remember his first book, Practical Modern Basketball. I was never a competitive basketball player. But his book contained an appendix for referees. I was told to read it when I became a Little League umpire.
Coach Wooden emphasized fundamentals. His advice to referees was no different. Resolve before each game to be impartial and do your best. It’s more important to be in position than to get the call right. (Being out of position will certainly lead to more incorrect calls.) A good official maintains control of the situation from the moment he steps onto the field to the moment he steps off. Do not consume alcohol on days when you are scheduled to officiate. Demonstrate at least as much hustle as the players. Make calls with loud certainty. Be will groomed and wear a proper uniform when officiating.
John Wooden’s other books, which were as much about life coaching than sports. He needed to write them. The greatest basketball coach of all-time never earned more then $35,000 a year at UCLA.
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